To lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, Jonathan Herrera hit a grounder up the middle against Shaun Marcum. Me and my roommate watching the game together both assumed the ball was through and going for a hit. But then this happened:
Josh Wilson made a play ranging up the middle. If you have MLB.TV, take a look at the archives and watch the play. That’s a ball Yuniesky Betancourt just watches go through the middle for a base hit, and not because he’s lazy. It’s because he knows he has no chance whatsoever of making it to that baseball.
Josh Wilson is not a great shortstop. He’s not a good one. He’s probably not even an average one. His UZR is -10 (10 runs worse than the average fielder) in a about a season and a third’s worth of starts. His +/- is -14 in the same span. It’s worth noting that most of the negative performance came in the 2007 season, which is about the length of time it takes for data to lose its meaning. But if he were a good shortstop, he’d probably have a regular job.
But he’s better than Yuniesky Betancourt, and that’s excruciatingly clear. Betancourt has taken the first half of 2011 to rack up a -9.5 UZR, nearly the entire career of Josh Wilson. His lowest seasonal UZR since 2008 was last season’s -9.5. His lowest seasonal +/- in that span was 2008’s -13.
And of course, there’s the eye test. The eye test that tells me that Betancourt doesn’t even have the fielding talent to justify attempting to field that ball in the bottom of Sunday’s fifth inning. It’s not often that you can truly believe what your eyes tell you, nor is it often true that one play tells the full story. In this one case, however, it’s painfully clear. Josh Wilson is clearly the superior defensive shortstop to Yuniesky Betancourt — I hardly think I need to bring up Betancourt’s offense — and until a better option is available, Wilson should be the starter at shortstop.