Campaigning for Yuni

Mike McGinnis

There's no shame in acknowledging that Yuniesky Betancourt is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now.

Yesterday morning, Brewers media man Mike Vassallo tweeted the following:


This probably seems like some kind of insanity. I can't really describe Yuni's past and present any better than our friend Rubie Q did today on Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball, so I'll just steal his bit:

In [the Brewers' 32 games this season], Yuniesky Betancourt, the most stubbornly irremovable piece of flotsam that ever drifted into Major League Baseball, he of the career OPS+ of 83 and cumulative WAR of 0.0 and UZR of (roughly) negative-a-billion, who somehow bluffed his way into 57 games last season on the Royals’ glorified AA roster and then gacked up an OBP of .256 (TWO-[expletive]-FIFTY-SIX!), has hit eight home runs. He has driven in 24 runs. His OPS+ is a knee-buckling 121.

Given his career numbers, I hadn't seriously contemplated Yuniesky Betancourt winning even a player of the week award, let alone getting a single vote for the All-Star game. Betancourt hit just .228/.256/.400 last year in his second stint with Kansas City. He caught on with the Phillies as a journeyman this year, but was cut even though he had a great spring. The Brewers signed him as infield depth.

So, that was fun for a time. Yuni gave us all something to complain about. It wasn't so bad, we told ourselves, because he wouldn't be starting, and Ron Roenicke would have to be insane to give him actual playing time. And then Aramis Ramirez got hurt, and Roenicke's hand was forced. Yuni was a starter again.

But this weird thing happened: Yuni started hitting. He scattered a handful of singles in the early days of April. Then he hit a couple doubles in the days just before he hit his first home run of the season, on April 16. He hit a home run the next day, too. Entering the Rangers series, he had seven, and then added this longball to left center on Tuesday. Just four National League players have topped Yuni's eight dingers on the season. And he's been pretty decent in the field, too, manning first and third while Ramirez and Corey Hart were sidelined by injuries.

Here we are approaching mid-May, and Yuni finds himself not only a valuable component of the Brewers' lineup, but a legitimate candidate for the midsummer classic.

How legitimate? Well, that depends what position you're considering him for. Mike Vassallo apparently likes him at first, but there are other, more worthy players there, like Anthony Rizzo and Paul Goldschmidt, not to mention big names like Joey Votto and Ryan Howard. No, Betancourt is a much better play at third, where only David Wright, Todd Frazier, and Pablo Sandoval stand between Yuni and his first All-Star selection.

Here's how those four stack up:


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2013 - Yuniesky Betancourt 31 109 14 29 4 0 8 24 4 13 0 0 .266 .293 .523


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2013 - David Wright 30 104 20 31 5 3 5 23 23 20 6 1 .298 .422 .548


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2013 - Todd Frazier 34 117 14 28 6 0 6 24 13 33 2 1 .239 .321 .444


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2013 - Pablo Sandoval 33 132 16 42 6 0 4 24 8 15 0 0 .318 .357 .455

Betancourt does face one obstacle those other players don't. You won't find his name on the All-Star ballots already circulating in ballparks and online. Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart are Milwaukee's official ballot representatives at third and first, respectively, though both have missed large chunks of time.

So you'll have to write Betancourt in. And at this point, why not? Betancourt's stretch has been so improbable, let's just embrace the chaos.

You can fill out an online All-Star ballot here. The Brewers are also supporting a Betancourt All-Star vote with the hashtag #YUNITEDWESTAND on Twitter.

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