Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Monday, April 05, 2010

Betancourt subject of debate between scouts and stat guys

Yuniesky Betancourt just wants to play shortstop. He wants to dive for grounders and charge in on choppers and smack line drives to the gap. Hopefully it’s enough to make a lot of money and have some fun.

Instead, he is the face of an eternal war between scouts and statisticians throughout baseball and the bellwether for a lot of fans deciding how much they trust the Royals’ front office.

“I see plus hands, good agility and range, and plus hands,” says an American League scout.

“Our numbers have him as the worst shortstop in baseball,” says John Dewan, creator of the Plus/Minus system to evaluate defensive players.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 05, 2010 at 02:45 PM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: royals, sabermetrics, scouting

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. DCA Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:04 PM (#3492987)
The last sentence of TFA is awesome:

This is what the baseball people take note of, even while allowing that Betancourt still sometimes struggles with routine plays and often swings with no sense of the strike zone.

   2. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:10 PM (#3492993)
The last sentence of TFA is awesome:

The picture accompanying the article is a strong editorial statement, as well.
   3. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:10 PM (#3492994)
   4. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:14 PM (#3492997)
Betancourt still sometimes struggles with routine plays

This is the key issue here. It's one thing to have the tools to be an outstanding defensive player; it's quite another to use those tools effectively and actually be an outstanding defensive player.

There's really no disconnect here; I think everyone would agree that Betancourt has the potential to be a really good player, but for whatever reason hasn't been able to realise that potential.
   5. bfan Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:14 PM (#3492999)
Actually, that is the last sentence of page 1 of the article.

Page 2 looks like wholesale surrender on the issue by the KC brass, with their hope that his skill-set turns into something viable and helpful on the field. They don't even say "statistics be dam*ed; he is a good fielder-just look"; they now say "he sure is agile and throws nicely off-balance-he could be a good fielder, if he just got better at all of the other stuff".
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:19 PM (#3493004)
Willie Bloomquist will be completing the left side of the infield the Royals today.

Trey says he is not starting Mike Aviles, because he doesn't want Aviles playing on such an amped up day. I have no idea what this even means.
   7. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:21 PM (#3493006)
Willie Bloomquist will be completing the left side of the infield the Royals today.

I was all set to be snarky about this, but then I read TFA and saw that Aviles and Callaspo are still recovering from injury, so Bloomquist, Betancourt, and Getz is actually the best infield that the Royals can field today.
   8. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:22 PM (#3493008)
Trey says he is not starting Mike Aviles, because he doesn't want Aviles playing on such an amped up day. I have no idea what this even means.

I think it means he'd prefer to wait until Betancourt and Bloomquist destroy any last vestige of hope in or near the organization before Aviles hits the field.
   9. Tripon Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:22 PM (#3493009)
Isn't Yuniesky Betancourt 28? This is probably the best he's ever going to be and that's not good enough to start or be on the bench... for AAA.
   10. xbhaskarx Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:26 PM (#3493010)
“I see plus hands, good agility and range, and plus hands,”

So in the scouting plus/minus system, his hands are a +2?
   11. HarryAbles Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:27 PM (#3493011)
If Betancourt actually had two sets of plus hands, we'd have something to talk about.
   12. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:28 PM (#3493014)
So in the scouting plus/minus system, his hands are a +2?

Only when he's wearing his Elf's gauntlets.
   13. Win one for Agrippa (haplo53) Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:39 PM (#3493023)
I was wondering if the "debate" in the article would be "scouts say Betancourt sucks, while stat guys contend that he blows."
   14. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:40 PM (#3493025)
I was wondering if the "debate" in the article would be "scouts say Betancourt sucks, while stat guys contend that he blows."

The Mariners have scouts too!
   15. RJ in TO Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:45 PM (#3493030)
The Mariners have scouts too!

And they're singlehandedly in the process of revolutionizing the evaluation of defense throughout the history of baseball!
   16. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:47 PM (#3493035)
And they're singlehandedly in the process of revolutionizing the evaluation of defense throughout the history of baseball!

I thought they had finished that and moved on to quantum computing and the popularity of Sandra Bullock.
   17. RJ in TO Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:49 PM (#3493039)
I thought they had finished that and moved on to quantum computing and the popularity of Sandra Bullock.

She's cute, and apparently really nice. There's not much to figure out.

Instead, they've moved on to more complex issues, like why Dayton Moore still has a job.
   18. JPWF13 Posted: April 05, 2010 at 03:59 PM (#3493052)
This is the key issue here. It's one thing to have the tools to be an outstanding defensive player; it's quite another to use those tools effectively and actually be an outstanding defensive player.


Ditto, and some people lose sight of that, remember a few years ago, some magazine polled scouts, regarding pitchers, and a large plurality of scouts said that Josh Beckett was the best starter i the MLB (Best starter, not best arm, best fastball, but best pitcher)

At the time it was virtually incontestable that Johan Santana was the best starting pitcher, and whoever 2 & 3 were- they weren't Josh Beckett.

Basically from a scout's standpoint Beckett had the best tools of any established MLB starter, and some (not all, but a hefty minority), seemed simply incapable of separating those tools from Beckett's ability/skill to use them.
   19. Tricky Dick Posted: April 05, 2010 at 04:05 PM (#3493054)
In so many ways, Betancourt is the current test case. If he becomes adequate defensively, the old-school scouts win. If he continues his slide, score one for the computers.


This seems like a false dichotomy. UZR (or +/-) is not a prediction; it tells you the player's past defensive production. Surely, if a player builds up a history of bad UZR results, one can look at the past and the player's age to conclude that it's unlikely the player will be a good a defender next year. But that doesn't preclude the possibility that the play might improve in the future, and it wouldn't prove anything about the validity of the fielding metrics. Why are the scouts cursing UZR, as this article indicates? The scouts themselves don't claim that Betnacourt has been an effective defensive player. The scouts apparently think that Bentancourt has the skills but lacks the work ethic and concentration to succeed as a defender. UZR doesn't attempt to separate skill from mental traits of fielding; it just measure production. It's probably unlikely that Betancourt turns things around defensively. But I think it's possible for players to improve their defense. I think about Aramis Ramirez, who was a bad defender for many years, but eventually developed into a good defender. It is possible to improve. And if it happens, it wouldn't mean that UZR "lost," because UZR isn't intended to measure the ability to improve.
   20. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 05, 2010 at 04:10 PM (#3493057)
The thing about Betancourt is that he doesn't really have those tools at the level he used to. I don't know if he's currently in the best shape of his life, but by the time he left Seattle, he'd put on some weight and lost that extra step he used to have. So he was no longer a guy with great range and a tendency to make bonehead plays -- he was a guy with pretty good range and a tendency to make bonehead plays.
   21. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: April 05, 2010 at 04:18 PM (#3493063)
I thought they had finished that and moved on to quantum computing and the popularity of Sandra Bullock.

Don't forget their most difficult challenge: the thought process behind greenlighting the recent sequels to the Rambo and Rocky franchises.
   22. Greg Franklin Posted: April 05, 2010 at 04:54 PM (#3493090)
Good for WFB getting the opening day start... MLBDepthCharts.com had Callaspo penciled in the opening-day lineup at 3B as of last night. Must be a hunch for Troy, who noted that Bloomquist had off-season arthroscopic knee surgery and would not be played too heavily in spring training.
   23. akrasian Posted: April 05, 2010 at 05:46 PM (#3493225)
Don't forget their most difficult challenge: the thought process behind greenlighting the recent sequels to the Rambo and Rocky franchises.

Money. Between box office revenues, dvd sales of the new movies, AND increased dvd sales for the series, there was a lot of money to be made.
   24. Tripon Posted: April 05, 2010 at 06:11 PM (#3493310)
There's another Rocky movie?
   25. BDC Posted: April 05, 2010 at 06:21 PM (#3493344)
Betancourt is a puzzling guy to argue about, because if his hitting gets any worse, the stat/scout debate over his defense is going to become completely academic.
   26. The District Attorney Posted: April 05, 2010 at 06:22 PM (#3493345)
From article linked in #3:
Hillman was then asked whether infielder Mike Aviles, who is a month ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, was in the mix to start at third in today’s game.

“Not really, not with the ability level that Willie Bloomquist brings to the table,” Hillman said.

“the ability level that Willie Bloomquist brings to the table”

“the ability level that Willie Bloomquist brings to the table”

“the ability level that Willie Bloomquist brings to the table”
   27. Basil Ganglia Posted: April 05, 2010 at 06:54 PM (#3493441)
This is one cherry-picked quote from an unnamed scout.

It's lazy journalism; that Mellinger would actually post something this shoddy under his byline speaks volumes about his capabilities.

There might be a story if he had interviewed advance scouts for all of the American League teams regarding their opinions of Betancourt's ability, and say 75% percent of them thought that Betancourt was an excellent defensive shortstop.

Then there might be a basis to says that scouts and stats disagree. But that might require that Mellinger do real work to create a story. Further if it showed, as it most likely would, that scouts whose primary job is to assess MLB talent agreed with the stats, there wouldn't be a story to write.

++++++++

When serious bloggers do something this sloppy, the "established media" so quickly points to the lack of journalistic standards in the blogging community. There is no reason to not call out a credentialed reporter for a major newspaper when they are just as sloppy.
   28. user Posted: April 05, 2010 at 06:56 PM (#3493445)
But a front office that can assemble such a superb lineup clearly deserves the benefit of the doubt...

D. DeJesus RF
S. Podsednik LF
B. Butler 1B
R. Ankiel CF
J. Guillen DH
W. Bloomquist 3B
Y. Betancourt SS
J. Kendall CF
C. Getz 2B
   29. JPWF13 Posted: April 05, 2010 at 08:56 PM (#3493837)
There might be a story if he had interviewed advance scouts for all of the American League teams regarding their opinions of Betancourt's ability, and say 75% percent of them thought that Betancourt was an excellent defensive shortstop.


2 to 3 years ago one of NYC's tabloid writers (Post or Daily News), actually troubled himself to ask a couple of other teams' advance scouts about the Great Jeter's defense- and he was somewhat surprised that they didn't seem to think it was all that... They didn't think Jeter was as bad as statheads thought, but they didn't think he was particularly good defensively overall...

The meme in the NYC MSM had always been that Jeter was an "elite" defensive SS, the first real crack in that belief system wasn't the acceptance of any newfangled defensive metric, it was Cashman's comments that the Yankee's believed Jeter had slipped- and the fact that Jeter didn't deny it (although Jeter was and is quite vocal about why he thinks the new defensive metrics are wrong about him)
   30. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 05, 2010 at 09:04 PM (#3493845)
UPDATE: Betancourt on pace for 162+ HR, 324+ RBI.
   31. BDC Posted: April 05, 2010 at 09:12 PM (#3493857)
UPDATE: Betancourt on pace for 162+ HR, 324+ RBI

Well, that erases my concerns about the guy's hitting. But perhaps they should move him to first base.
   32. Langer Monk Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:17 PM (#3493944)
#26: Dental Plan!

So, first WFB's error leads to the Tigers' first run. Despite that, Greinke leaves after 6 with a two run lead, which is blown before an out in the 7th. What's next in Royal-land?
   33. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:18 PM (#3493949)
UPDATE: Betancourt on pace for 162+ HR, 324+ RBI.

Now if only they could rig it so the wind howls out to left every game!

Despite that, Greinke leaves after 6 with a two run lead, which is blown before an out in the 7th.

Greinke JUST DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO WIN! The Royals need to hire Jack Morris NOW.
   34. sunnyday2 Posted: April 05, 2010 at 10:24 PM (#3493969)
Tricky Dick. 19.

Betancourt is the current test case. If he becomes adequate defensively, the old-school scouts win. If he continues his slide, score one for the computers.


Exactly the key paragraph in the whole article. Thus showing how stupid the discussion can be. If the guy works hard and improves, it proves that advanced stats are wrong? That is just dumb. And, oh yeah, not if he becomes a star and wins that gold glove that has been predicted for him my the traditionalists. No, if he only becomes adequate, it proves that those cretins are wrong. Jeez.

Then there's the part about him not only being the worst fielder in MLB but the worst hitter, too, based on OPS. I wish the author had asked the scouts about that. It would have been enlightening to hear how they go about pooh-poohing OPS behind their closed scout doors. Oh, yeah, he's really a great hitter, has a really nice stroke (as his bat cuts through the air, unemcumbered by contact with any opposing forces). Looks great to me!
   35. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 05, 2010 at 11:22 PM (#3494040)
Page 2 looks like wholesale surrender on the issue by the KC brass, with their hope that his skill-set turns into something viable and helpful on the field. They don't even say "statistics be dam*ed; he is a good fielder-just look"; they now say "he sure is agile and throws nicely off-balance-he could be a good fielder, if he just got better at all of the other stuff".
You mean to say that "In those honest moments, scouts say Betancourt’s deficiencies are with concentration, intelligence, comfort and ambition." is not a ringing endorsement?
   36. jwb Posted: April 06, 2010 at 02:06 PM (#3494455)
"Yuniesky’s a bad fielder," says John Dewan.
“We think he’s got a chance to be better than average (defensively)," Trey Hillman says.
Dewan doesn't say Betancourt doesn't have a chance to become a better than average fielder; Hillman doesn't say Betancourt isn't a bad fielder. Where's the debate?
   37. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 06, 2010 at 03:05 PM (#3494525)
Dewan doesn't say Betancourt doesn't have a chance to become a better than average fielder; Hillman doesn't say Betancourt isn't a bad fielder. Where's the debate?

That's a good point. The debate isn't whether Betancourt is good defensively now. I don't even think the Royals truly believe Betancourt is an above average defender. Its whether or not a 28 year old with work ethic issues can improve.

When Dayton acquired Yuni, he talked about his tools, not about his performance. Dayton seems to be in the school of thought (echoed by many "baseball men" I've been hearing on the radio) that a player's peak is age 28-32 and Betancourt can indeed recapture his skills and improve. Its based on a confident bordering on arrogant mindset of "hey, this guy has raw talent, WE can mold into results."

The other school of thought says a 28 year old is much more likely to decline, particularly one that has work ethic issues. I tend to belong to the latter.
   38. base ball chick Posted: April 06, 2010 at 03:26 PM (#3494555)
i am SO freaking tired of these incredibly STOOPID articles about da WAR (hahaha) between the stats dorx and the scouts Who Watch The Game

what someone has the "potential" to do and what they actually DO do just might could be 2 separate things

look at all the guys who are media/scouts who predict what will happen during the season - most of them are wrong

look at all the stats guys who do the same thing

if the royals scouts actually think that betancourt does DO a good job with either bat or glove, then all i can say is thank GAWD for the royals because there will be at least 1 team worse than my astros
   39. The Ghost is getting a Woody Posted: April 06, 2010 at 03:35 PM (#3494565)
   40. AROM Posted: April 06, 2010 at 04:02 PM (#3494603)
Its whether or not a 28 year old with work ethic issues can improve.


If he's truly a guy with no work ethic, then he's toast. It really doesn't matter if he has the ability to improve if his work ethic isn't going to allow it to happen.

If Yuni has any chance to be a useful player, the argument goes like this:

1. He has been terrible the last few years, especially 2009.
2. He has the skills to play much better.
3. He hasn't made the most of his skills in the past because of X
4. We can get him to improve and untap those skills because we have identified Y problem and are doing Z to remedy it.

That doesn't sound like what the Royals are trying to sell us though. They seem a lot more like a team in denial, and will continue to see the losses pile up because they don't even know what the problem is in the first place.
   41. JPWF13 Posted: April 06, 2010 at 04:47 PM (#3494649)
Let's compare Betancourt with Christian Guzman

Guzman through age 27 was an even worse hitter (for career) than Betancourt, yet Guzman was actually a decent player ages 29-30...

Of course, Guzman had actually once upon a time, prior to age 28, actually hit- to paraphrase Ron Shandler, once a player displays a skill- especially a hitter- he OWNS that skill- you may not see it for awhile- nagging injuries, the player gets fat- but it's always there and may re-emerge...

Betancourt has NEVER shown any hitting skill, ever, at any age, or any level- he's ALWAYS been someone who scouts thought could hit, (thought could field too obviously)- but he's never ever shown the SKILLs (as opposed to the "tools")

Hell, even Ronny Cedeno has shown flashes of hitting skill (.357/.413/.528 in 602 AAA PAs, believe it or not), Betancourt's absolute PEAK- at any level, was .289/.308/.418 in 2007.
(By OPS+ he was 18th out of 29 among SSs that year, 360+ PAs) - that was/is his PEAK
He's got over 3000 PAs as a professional baseball player- and he's never shown any skill, ever.

If you think he has the physical ability to succeed, and YOU think you are the one who can help Betancourt tap into that ability- at this point? As someone above noted- that's simply arrogance at this point

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Harveys Wallbangers
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogBaseball's most underrated Hall of Fame candidates. | SportsonEarth.com : Anthony Castrovince Article
(20 - 4:44pm, Nov 28)
Last: Booey

NewsblogMarlins seek lefty balance in lineup, on mound | MLB.com
(3 - 4:39pm, Nov 28)
Last: Jim (jimmuscomp)

NewsblogSource: Tomas agrees to six-year deal with D-backs | MLB.com
(28 - 4:38pm, Nov 28)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogOT - November 2014 College Football thread
(611 - 4:31pm, Nov 28)
Last: Lance Reddick! Lance him!

NewsblogJon Lester has plenty of options in addition to Red Sox - Sports - The Boston Globe
(11 - 4:30pm, Nov 28)
Last: Kiko Sakata

NewsblogOTP Politics November 2014: Mets Deny Bias in Ticket Official’s Firing
(5106 - 4:19pm, Nov 28)
Last: Dan The Mediocre

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - November 2014
(1143 - 4:14pm, Nov 28)
Last: PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth)

NewsblogBoston Red Sox prove (once again) that competitive balance in baseball will never exist | cleveland.com
(45 - 3:54pm, Nov 28)
Last: Dan

Newsblog[Cricketer NOT baseball player] Phil Hughes dies after “pitch” to the head
(17 - 3:52pm, Nov 28)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogOT: NBC.news: Valve isn’t making one gaming console, but multiple ‘Steam machines’
(1189 - 3:40pm, Nov 28)
Last: odds are meatwad is drunk

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-28-2014
(8 - 3:39pm, Nov 28)
Last: Tom Nawrocki

NewsblogSandy Alderson says Mets can move quickly if a shortstop becomes available - NY Daily News
(43 - 2:57pm, Nov 28)
Last: Ron J2

NewsblogNotable Players Available In The Rule 5 Draft - BaseballAmerica.com
(11 - 2:54pm, Nov 28)
Last: KJOK

Hall of MeritBrian Giles
(57 - 2:42pm, Nov 28)
Last: Bleed the Freak

Hall of Merit2015 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(59 - 2:41pm, Nov 28)
Last: Bleed the Freak

Page rendered in 0.3160 seconds
52 querie(s) executed