I think I've posed this question once or twice before, but honestly now, if you were to make a list of the biggest Mariner disappointments over the past several years, where would Yuni come in?
I'm not going to sit here and blame him for this loss; Clement was worse, the error only cost the team -8.1% in WPA, and Washburn's the one who allowed the lead-changing homer. But speaking in terms of the bigger picture...just how significant is it that a game like this barely fazes us anymore? Is this how low our standards have sunk? Yuni went 1-4 with a single and an error - the sort of game that he has entirely too often - and so what? I doubt anyone's really going to be talking about it in the morning. Because this is Yuni. This is what Yuni does.
And that's just unbelievable to me considering what we thought he was when he first came up. Yuni was sold as as guy with a low but productive offensive ceiling and the kind of defensive ability that would for several years make him one of the biggest bargains in baseball. I should know; I was one of the people doing the selling. But what now? His OPS has dropped to .631. His Marcel projected OPS, while much better, is still only .702. He doesn't walk. He doesn't hit for power. He doesn't run. And instead of being one of the best defensive shortstops in the league, he's turned into a lackadaisacal fat oaf, a new Deivi Cruz when the world already has all the Deivi Cruz it'll ever need. And as normal and acceptable as this has become to point out in recent months, if you think back to how we responded to this guy when he was first making a name for himself in 2005, I think you may be shocked by how much of a disappointment he really is.
It's one thing for a prospect like Ryan Anderson or Clint Nageotte to wash out before ever really making it. That kind of thing happens all the time, and it's why minor league depth is such a critical component of any successful organization. But it's quite another for a prospect to make it to the big leagues, establish himself as something valuable, and then suddenly, without warning, regress to the point at which he becomes a major problem. That's not a normal career path. That's not even an abnormal career path. That's borderline anomalous. Yuniesky Betancourt is practically an anomaly in the way that he went from big asset to painful headache before turning 27.
And I think that's what hurts the most. If Yuni had busted out in AAA, that would've stung, but we would've gotten over it. As is, though, he sort of took the scenic route to the kingdom of fail, taking the time to almost achieve his potential before sliding all the way back down. The magnitude of that slide is therefore remarkably large, and the reason I'm asking this question. Where does Yuni fit in on the list of recent disappointments? He's obviously below the 2008 season as a whole, but the fact that he's even somewhere up there rubbing shoulders with Lollablueza will just never stop blowing my mind.
What a waste.
Biggest Contribution: Raul Ibanez, +10.4%
Biggest Suckfest: Jeff Clement, -19.7%
Most Important AB: Balentien groundout, -10.7%
Most Important Pitch: Guerrero homer, -27.2%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -20.6%
Total Contribution by Lineup: -45.8%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +16.4%
(What is this chart?)
I'm not going to give the Angels a bunch of crap for that little maneuver at the end, since Francisco Rodriguez has on average inherited the highest-leverage situations of any reliever in baseball, but holy hell was that ever the dumbest save in the world. Never let anyone tell you that Mike Scioscia isn't a player's manager. He knows what Rodriguez is chasing, and he's fully prepared to do what he can to help him along. Cheap? Maybe, but truth be told, Rodriguez probably deserves a few more of these. What a great time for him to have this season.