Re: The problem with Iglesias
posted at 5/12/2011 1:02 PM EDT
Where will Jose Iglesias land among the hierarchy of these Cuban shortstops: Alexei Ramirez, Yunel Escobar and Yuniesky Betancourt?
The current reviews of Jose Iglesias remind me of columnist Dave Cameron's 2005 assessment of Yuniesky Betancourt:
On June 1st, Mike Morse took over as the Mariners starting shortstop. He held the position down for most of the next two months before his bat cooled off and the team turned to Yuniesky Betancourt, the guy with a questionable stick and a flashy glove. The defensive upgrade of going from Morse to Betancourt, overnight, would be akin to taking your '77 Fiat down to the local dealer and trading it in for a Maserati. Having Morse as your starting shortstop one day and Betancourt the next is the baseball equivalent of a before and after infomercial for the Range-O-Matic 2005.
What makes Betancourt so good in the field? The easy answers would be something like "range, arm strength, footwork, and agility", and they'd all be accurate. YuBet makes plays on balls he has no right even touching. On more than one occassion, he's gotten to a ball where I've commented "man, nice job keeping that on the infield", and then the next thing I know, he's nailing the guy at first base.
Here's the thing, though. Betancourt makes the spectacular plays, the ones that you'll see on highlight shows for years to come, but that's not what makes him great. He routinely makes the play that doesn't look so spectacular but that nobody else alive makes. That ball four steps in the hole? Not only does he cut it off, but he gets there in time to square his body and make the throw without leaping in the air. And he nails the guy every single time.
Yuniesky Betancourt is the Rolls Royce of defensive shortstops. You've seen the rest; now watch the best.
Betancourt has never posted a positive season UZR at shortstop and his a career UZR/150 of -8.3 at the position. Iglesias almost assuredly will outperform Betancourt, but I share these numbers just to remind folks that there are no guarantees.