March 26, 2013 is a day I'd like to forget.
I think we as a fanbase were just starting to get past our frustrations over an entire 2011 season of Yuniesky Betancourt when it happened again: The Brewers signed him to a major league deal and put one of the worst players in all of baseball on the Opening Day roster.
Shortly after that, though, an amazing thing happened: Yuniesky Betancourt actually helped the team in April. While splitting time between first and third base (in place of Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez), Yuni hit .280/.299/.549 in the season's first month, connecting for six home runs and fooling the organization into believing he was worth keeping around.
Of course, we all know what happened after that. Yuni went 0-for-3 on May 2 and hit just .193/.223/.295 in his final 112 games. That's 318 plate appearances of replacement level-defying performance. He hit .115/.143/.180 in June. And it's important to remember he did all of this while starting most days at first base.
Yuniesky Betancourt was a bad MLB player in 2011. In 2013, though, it's possible he was the worst Brewer of all time. And that's saying a lot, because this franchise has had some epic lows. According to B-Ref, just four Brewers position players have ever had a less valuable season than Yuni (-2 rWAR):
- Ted Simmons, who hit .221/.269/.300 in 132 games in 1984 (-2.6 rWAR).
- Von Joshua, who hit .261/.286/.384 in 144 games in 1977 (-2.4 rWAR).
- Ronnie Belliard, who hit .211/.257/.287 in 104 games in 2002 (-2.2 rWAR).
- Sean Berry, who hit .228/.281/.301 in 106 games in 1999 (-2.1 rWAR).
All told, B-Ref estimates Yuni's "value" at 2.5 wins below replacement in his two seasons as a Brewer. That's tied four the fourth worst in franchise history, although one of the "batters" ahead of him is Ben Sheets.
I've mentioned it several times but I'll say it again here: If the Brewers re-sign Yuni for 2014, I think I'd rather walk away from this site than spend another year writing about it.
We've already noted that nearly all of Yuni's contributions to this team came in April, but his biggest contribution to a win came on June 4 against the A's. Yuni entered a 3-3 game as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning and drew a walk, although he was eventually stranded. He stayed in the game at first base and came up again in the tenth, hitting a two-out double that scored Carlos Gomez and gave the Brewers a 4-3 walkoff win.
Here's the highlight from the big hit:
By appearing in 137 games this season, Yuniesky Betancourt earned $900,000 in base salary and another $400,000 in incentives. He's a free agent this winter, and until he signs somewhere else I'm going to remain concerned that the Brewers will bring him back.
This is the final installment in our player-by-player recap of the 2013 season. Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below:
#1: Carlos Gomez
#2: Jonathan Lucroy
#3: Jean Segura
#4: Kyle Lohse
#5: Norichika Aoki
#6: Jim Henderson
#7: Brandon Kintzler
#8: Yovani Gallardo
#9: Wily Peralta
#10: Scooter Gennett
Honorable mentions: Marco Estrada, Ryan Braun, Khris Davis, Tyler Thornburg, Aramis Ramirez, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Bianchi, Caleb Gindl, Logan Schafer, Rob Wooten
Lesser Brewers: Burke Badenhop, Francisco Rodriguez, Jimmy Nelson, Donovan Hand, Sean Halton, Martin Maldonado, Hiram Burgos, Alfredo Figaro, Michael Blazek, Mike Fiers, Juan Francisco, Chris Narveson, Johnny Hellweg, Alex Gonzalez
The Last 2013 Brewers: Rickie Weeks, John Axford, Michael Gonzalez