Originally posted on The Flagrant Fan  |  Last updated 1/24/12
Wilson Betemit's bat is a mirage. There. Glad we cleared that up right in the first sentence. At least now you know the tone the rest of this piece will take. Oh, perhaps as a stopgap for a season, Betemit could be at least useful now and then. But two years with an option? Oh dear. That's not a good idea. Friends, there is a reason why the Orioles will be Betemit's seventh team in his now ten year career. He'll wear out the welcome mat before you can say, "Defense." His last name is one of the best oxymoron names in baseball. He most certainly isn't a better mitt. Is he even a betebat?
How does this signing make sense for the Orioles? The deal gives the Orioles two of the worst fielding third basemen in baseball in Betermit and Mark Reynolds. So which one plays third and which one is the designated hitter? Perhaps Reynolds can play first. But then you still have a lousy glove over at third. We'll concede that Mark Reynolds has some really good power and can give you a lot of homers. But the strikeouts choke his value. Betemit looks like a decent offensive player the last two seasons, but consider that his BABIP over the last two seasons have been .361 and .391 respectively. If Betemit hit line drives higher than the average hitter, you might accept that explanation.  But his line drive percentage has been 14.8 and 19.3 in the last two seasons.
Wilson Betemit is one of those players that makes you scratch your head. How has his career lasted this long? There are four things you can do to have a long major league career:
  1. Be a left-handed reliever
  2. Be a utility infielder
  3. Be a backup catcher
  4. Actually be a good player
Betemit would fall under category number two. And yes, he can play multiple positions. But saying that, wouldn't you at least want that sort of player to be somewhat decent at doing so? Omar Vizquel he ain't. The Orioles, it seems, have been fooled by his offensive numbers the last couple of years. And granted, they look pretty good. His OPS+ the last two seasons have been 141 and 117. What's wrong with that? His OPS in high leverage situations last year was an astounding, .974. So he's a great clutch hitter, right? This writer maintains that it's a fluke. His career OPS in such high leverage situations is .794. Not bad, but it it includes last year and certainly makes last year look fluky.
Look, this writer knows that WAR isn't the be all and end all when considering players. But the stats show that Betemit is not good defensively, not good on the base paths and has compiled the grand total of 3.3 fWAR in his ten seasons and 3.7 bWAR. If you want to take a one year flier on such a player, that's okay. But a two year deal with a third year option? Are you crazy!? This Fan has been wrong before and will certainly be wrong again. But from this perch, the Orioles have to be out of their minds to make such a deal.
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