Another Argument About Why Yuniesky Betancourt Should Not Be A Starter

Everyone is tired of seeing these posts about why Yuniesky Betancourt should not be starting.  Yes, this is another of these posts.  It's probably written more out of frustration than anything else, but it needs to be said.  As of today, the Brewers are on a five-game losing streak (and a six-game losing streak at home).  It may not be time for drastic changes, but something needs to be done to spark this team.  How can the Brewers (and more specifically, Ron Roenicke) justify continuing to start Betancourt when the team is struggling like it has been?

Follow the jump for more.

Let's just look at some stats now.  First of all, here is the month-by-month breakdown for Betancourt (from B-Ref):

March/April .261 .297 .359 .656 .271 1 10 5 9
May .178 .200 .289 .489 .182 2 8 3 13
June .284 .281 .409 .690 .288 2 9 0 7
July .299 .315 .437 .752 .300 2 13 3 7
August .235 .256 .389 .646 .245 3 15 3 13
September .259 .300 .407 .707 .273 1 4 1 5

Let's also zoom in at the more recent results.  From August 14 to September 9, here are Betancourt's stats:

BA .170 (16 for 94)
OBP .194
SLG .298
OPS .492
HR 2
BB 2
SO 12
BABIP .173
Total WPA -1.644
RE24 -15.04


First of all, some of you are probably wondering what RE24 is.  RE24 is a measure on of how many runs any specific player adds or subtracts as a batter or baserunner.  What that figure says is that over those 25 games, Betancourt cost the Brewers just over 15 runs.  The rest of the stats speak for themselves.  He's ice cold right now.  You might look at the BABIP and say that he's been a bit unlucky, and maybe that has been the case with some of his at-bats.  If you look at the monthly stats, his BA is in direct correlation with his BABIP.  If it was June, July, or even August, you could let him try to work out of it.  However, it's September right now.  Are you going to take the chance that he is going to break out of this slump?  There's a lot on the line right now, and playing him with the emphasis of trying to get him back on track is the wrong idea at this point in the season.

As I was looking at the stats, I also found something from FanGraphs that really helps show what his plate style is like.  Here are some of his percentages from his at-bats, along with the league average:

O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% F-Strike%
Betancourt 2011 40.0% 76.1% 56.8% 72.1% 95.1% 86.4% 65.7%
Betancourt Career Average 33.3% 69.3% 51.8% 74.1% 94.2% 87.9% 61.0%

League Average 2011 30.5% 64.9% 46.1% 68.2% 87.9% 80.8% 56.4%

If you need to know what the above terms mean, here is a glossary from FanGraphs that defines these terms

What does this table tell you?  Basically, not only is Betancourt's plate discipline worse than the league average for this league, it's even worse than his career average.  The percent of pitches outside the strike zone that he's swinging at is 40%, nearly 10% above the league average.  It's the highest it has been at in his career.  Of those pitches outside the strike zone that he is swinging at, he's making contact with over 72% of them.  It's hard to have a good hit when the pitch is outside the strike zone.  The first pitch strike percentage is much higher than league average as well at 65.7%.  It's not the highest of his career for a season, but it is up there.  Why did I pull these stats out from all of those?  It's simple.  These percentages show he doesn't have good plate discipline.  It's worse this year than usual, and even if he gets closer to his career averages, it's still worse than the league averages.  He just doesn't have a good batting style, and that means it is less likely that he is going to snap out of it.

Now, take a deep breath, then let it out.  Brace yourself, because we're going to talk about defense.  I'm not as experienced with defensive stats, so this is going to be more brief.  Let's pull up some of the stats from FanGraphs:

DPR -0.3
RngR -8.3
ErrR -0.3
UZR -8.9
UZR/150 -11.8

Once again, if you need to know what some of these terms mean, check out this glossary from FanGraphs.  Basically, this says exactly what we already know.  His defense is bad.  More specifically, the worst part of his defense is from his range, though all aspects of it are below average.

All of this has been said, some of it by multiple people.  It also brings up the question of what to do about it.  The Brewers may not have a candidate that can replace Betancourt, but let's look at who is available.  I'm aware that some small sample size issues may come up here, but for obvious reasons, that is unavoidable.

Betancourt .252 .271 .378 .649 2.9% 10.3% -8.9 -11.8
Counsell .169 .269 .216 .485 10.3% 12.0% 2.4 41.2
Hairston, Jr. .266 .339 .367 .706 8.7% 12.2% 3.9* 9.8*
Wilson .229 .264 .361 .625 4.5% 23.6% -0.7 -21.9

* - UZR stats are based on SS only.  Hairston's UZR stats are from 2010 since he has only spent 1 inning at SS this season.

The options aren't great, but Hairston has had some success offensively and has experience at shortstop, even if he hasn't played it this year.  Why not give him a chance?  I understand that this isn't the time to be trying new things, but considering the state of the team and the need to get the offense going a little more, why not give him a chance?  With Weeks coming back, finding a way to get him into the lineup more often would be beneficial to the team.  Even getting Counsell more starts could help.  He may not provide offense, but he has better plate discipline and will provide better defense.

A lot of this may be information that we've all heard several times before, but apparently it still needs to be said since Betancourt is still a starter.  The Brewers really need to make a change.  Are they really ready to put their playoff hopes and possible success on a player that is not suited to be playing everyday?

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