Wilson Betemit and his place in the Process



Wilson Betemit's 2010 is hardly new to discussion here at RR.  Rany recently had a mini-section discussing him as the team-leader for homers this year (clubhouse leader=Guillen, Yuni hitting from the sand on 16, shortly ahead of Wilson).  Betemit's future prospects with the team are kind of odd, though.  Much has been made of Dayton plucking him off the scrap heap because no one else wanted him.  This is part of the story, but with one-time top prospects like Betemit, how much of a chance does he deserve?  I'll answer that and hopefully show how he's an asset beyond this year.

Betemit's 2010 numbers

OPS: 1.001 (.420/.581)

OPS+: 171

1970s baseball card stats: 331/10/29

BABIP: .405

Errors (awful stat, but shows something here): 5 (all at 3B)

Total Zone: -10 at 3B

WAR: 1.4 (pretty awesome considering his low number of PA)



Betemit's Career numbers

OPS: .788 (.337/.452)

OPS+: 104

1970s baseball card stats (per 500 PA, which he's never done): .268/18/62

BABIP: .334

Errors: 31 errors in 278 career games at 3B (206 starts)

Total Zone: -24 at 3B

WAR: 2.5 total for career, parts of 8 seasons, but only 1475 PA and 573 games

The Takeaway

The point of this post is to try to figure out what we have with Betemit and what the plan is.  The safe money is that Betemit is our 3B for now, until Moustakas is ready.  That day could be Opening Day next year if Moose destroys ST pitching, but more likely will be June or September of next year.  In the meantime, Betemit certainly hits well enough to justify letting him continue playing. Chances are he will not continue to hit this awesome well due to his high BABIP, but he also has career highs in fly balls and line drives this year.  Has he figured it out?  What if this year isn't a fluke (even though a more realistic .350 BABIP would still produce awesome numbers)?  At that point, he becomes the problem you love to have.



We've seen this at Third and First this year

Betemit likely will be better defensively, he certainly has been over his career.  His past as a shortstop means there is (too soon to say WAS, despite his age controversy already being resolved) an athlete behind that now-burly body.  He has pretty good hands, but has had a tougher time with some of the throws from third it seems like.  Regular playing time will greatly help a player with his skill set.  He's getting that opportunity now, and will get it throughout September.  In other words, unless his defense gets unbearable, let's not worry about it.



Some players just need that chance, and he is getting that now.

He is a switch hitter, now the type you don't have to hide.  His right-handed average (and OBP and SLG) is at a career high, and it should be noted that this WAS his natural side.  Many switch hitters, including Carlos Beltran, learned to hit left-handed and immediately took to it, to the detriment of their dominant side.  This happened to Betemit, as it was well-known that he struggled at times from the right side.  It is a strange phenomenon, but it is absolutely worth noting that Betemit is now a good hitter from the right side.  He CAN be in the lineup every day.  No need to hide him against good lefties, as some of his former teams have done.



The Braves are one of several teams to let Betemit come and go without a meaningful opportunity

But what about Moustakas?  He will be ready at some point next year, most likely.  If Betemit hits, he will keep playing.  Betemit is an example of why it is extremely important for guys like Kila to make the most of their opportunities.  If Kila's struggles last throughout the remainder of this year (though he seems to be gaining his sea-legs a bit), his spot in the lineup is up for grabs.  For free agents, other Royals, and even Wilson Betemit to take.  If Kila flops and Betemit still hits, we have a new 1B on-hand, at least until we wait on the next prospect (Hosmer in 2012) to show up.  Betemit can allow us to develop our top-end hitters at our own pace, without rushing them, IF HE CONTINUES TO HIT.  He can let the Process (oh my God, he said it) take its course. 



To even take this thing way out of control, as if it isn't already, what if, in 2012, Hosmer AND Moustakas AND Butler are all in the lineup?  If Betemit is still hitting, the outfield might be the place for him, as we don't have a whole lot brewing there (yet, looking at you Wil Myers) as far as hitters.  Imagine a Royals team that has at least 5 or 6 players that not only won't be an embarassment, but that we can count on to produce runs.  The pitching pipeline has been discussed at length, such that pretty much no one seems concerned that it MIGHT NOT work.  Betemit is allowing for that once-remote possibility of success to be phased-in, due to his team-friendly contract and sudden resurgence.  I know it might be saying a lot, but in 2014, if the Royals really have turned it around, Wilson Betemit might be looked at as the guy that allowed us to develop our hitters properly.



Fantasies aside, let's enjoy Betemit's hitting the remainder of this year and not even worry about when Moustakas will be ready.  After all, our 3B is hitting right now. 

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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