I want to admit at the outset of this article that I am from Denver, so my focus is on New York and the Super Bowl.
With that said, there was some huge news regarding the Milwaukee Brewers this week and I would feel guilty if I didn’t address it this week.
For those of you who haven’t heard the news, Yuniesky Betancourt recently signed a deal to go play for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan.
Anyone who follows me on twitter or knows me in person probably knows that I have a love affair for fake Yuniesky Betancourt accounts and that “Yuni B” was one of my all time favorite Brewers even though he only graced us with his presence for two seasons.
That said, “Yuni” wasn’t exactly the most dominant player in his years with Milwaukee. Last year he had a .212 batting average and over his two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers he had a -1.5 offensive WAR. On several occasions over this past year I would sometimes angrily mutter to myself every time Ron Roenicke chose to start him.
However, because Betancourt was so bad last season it is easy to forget the fact that he was a very important part of the 2011 postseason run, and that he was actually considered one of the better players in the league when he arrived in the United States in 2005. In fact, had Yuni been born in Florida instead of Cuba, he may have been one of the leagues most dominant players in the early 2000’s.
Unfortunately, he was stuck in Cuba for the first part of his career and by the time he reached the Brewers he was already 29 years old.
That season would be one of the best of Betancourt’s career. He had a .271 on base percentage and he hit 13 home runs. He was somewhat disappointing defensively that season with 21 errors and a .965 fielding percentage.
Once the Brewers reached the playoffs Yuni caught fire. I started following the Brewers during the postseason in 2011 (Yes, I was a bandwagon rider back in the day, heckle me all you want) and I distinctly remember Yuni B’s performances, especially in the series against the Cardinals.
In the 2011 postseason Yuni recorded a .326 on base percentage (.333 in the series against the Cardinals) with a .500 slugging percentage. In what would be a losing effort against St.Louis, Yuni hit a homerun and recorded a .875 OPS. 2011 was Yuni’s only postseason in the MLB, but he definitely made it a good one.
He left Milwaukee after the 2011 to play for Kansas City, but he returned to play for the Brewers last season. Although he led the league in home runs at the start of the season, Yuni had one of his worst years as a pro last year.
With Jean Segura locking down shortstop Yuni was forced into a utility role, and ended up playing more games at first base than any other position. I won’t try to blame his struggles all on the fact that he was forced out of his comfort zone on defense, but there is definitely an argument to be found there.
All in all Yuni will always have a special space in my Brewers heart. I wish him well in his future in Japan.