This isn’t a formal player analysis, which I’ll do closer to the start of the season. Just taking a closer look at Wilson Betemit…
I was one of Betemit’s bigger backers heading into last season. While I thought he could use another year in the minors (one not forthcoming) I thought people were too down on him for not playing well in AAA his first couple of seasons, not noticing that he actually hit well there in 2004 and was still young for the level. For some reason, his age still hasn’t been corrected, listing him as 16 months older than he actually is. Last year was not his Age 24 season, but his Age 22 season, and he was one of the younger players to play the whole season in the majors. What with the age adjustment the other way, he was slightly younger than Furcal was in his rookie season. .305/.359/.435 is pretty darned good for a 22-year-old rookie infielder. Actually, it’s better than 25-year-old rookie outfielder Ryan Langerhans.
Still, everyone, including me, doubts that the Braves will actually turn over full-time shortstop duties to Betemit should Furcal leave. Partially this is due to his defense, but that’s not all of it. It’s also concern about if he’s really this good of a hitter.
Defensively, he’s probably a little below average. I doubt that it’s going to kill you. By and large, he made slightly fewer plays than other shortstops, but was a little less likely to make an error. He’s nobody’s idea of a shortstop but I think he’s capable of a few good years there.
Now, about his bat… He hit .278/.336/.466 in Richmond in 2004, and like I said was still young for the level. So it’s possible that he’s really a .300 hitter. But my guess is that he’s closer to a .280 hitter. On the other hand, he might have more power than he showed last year, when he hit just four homers. He had 12 doubles and four triples to go along with those. With a more normal ratio of homers to doubles, he could lose twenty points off his batting average and still be a valuable hitter.