Major League baseball starts up again in just 68 days! That's hardly that long at all anymore. Heck, at this point we're closer to the 2016 season than we are to the end of the 2015 season! And to celebrate, I'm going to take a look back at the man that technically spent the most games at first base for the Brewers in 2013. Juan Francisco started more games than Yuni B, but Betancourt actually appeared in 68 games which was the most.
That's right everyone! Let's remembers first baseman Yuniesky Betancourt! I know everyone loves thinking back on that. Okay maybe love is the wrong word. But come on, hasn't enough time passed that we can look back and laugh? I think so. And for the record, hysterical laugh crying whilst you rock back and forth in a straight jacket in a padded room still counts as laughing.
What a time to be alive that was though. The Brewers didn't look all that bad on paper to start the 2013 season. It probably would have been wise to enter some kind of rebuild at that time. But I still don't think it was total folly to attempt another run at the playoffs. A lot of us look back and only remember the season record and some of the bad luck that contributed to it.
For example, no one really expected Ryan Braun to get suspended for half the season. And I'd also point out, that was the season he first began experience the thumb issue he now gets treated with cryotherapy. More importantly, I think a lot of people forget just how unprecedented the series of events were that led to Yuniesky Betancourt playing 409 innings at first base.
The Brewers were initially going into the season with Corey Hart as their starting first baseman. Then he messed up his knee in January. He was still expected to return in late April or early May--more on that soon. Next in line was Mat Gamel. Poor Mat Gamel. He had messed up his knee pretty bad in 2012. Then in February of 2013 it happened again. He was expected to, and did, miss the entire season. Third string first baseman was going to be Taylor Green. Well he hurt his hip, eventually had surgery, and missed the entire season.
But hey, it's okay, we all thought at the time. Corey Hart won't miss too much time. He did. He missed all the time. While he was rehabilitating the first knee he injured, he injured the other knee. He didn't play a game for the Brewers in 2013. So that's the Brewers regular first baseman, back-up first baseman, and third string first baseman all gone for the year.
But the thing that really messed the Brewers up was the expectation that Hart would return early in the season. It really didn't seem necessary or monetarily prudent to pay another first baseman to come in an sub for Hart when they thought he'd be back in 3 weeks. Coupled with the insane amount of injuries, that led to guys like Alex Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt logging innings at first base.
Speaking of Betancourt, let's get back on track and take a look at what he did that season for the Brewers. Defensively he split time at third base and first base. As you might expect the defensive metrics didn't like him at either position. His DRS and UZR at first base were -2 and -2.7 respectively. That's actually way better than he ever was at shortstop. So you know, silver lining and whatnot.
FanGraphs allows us to look at his 2013 splits to see what his offensive contributions where while he was serving as a first baseman. As a first baseman, he hit 194/220/347 in 170 plate appearances. That was worth an impressive 44 wRC+, or 56% worse than league average. Fun times everyone.
That 2013 season would end up being Betancourt's last in the majors...so far. He played in Japan last year and I remember he was demoted to their minor leagues after a short time. So it's probably pretty likely we won't see him in the majors again.
Today's wonderful topic was suggest by BCB community member mediumsized16. Thanks a bunch! And if anyone has suggestions for future opening day countdowns, please share them in the comments. I've got 60+ of them to write and can use all the help I can get!