|Betancourt's fielding now matches his hitting
When Betancourt debuted in 2005 it was easy to live with his poor .256/.296/.370 line at the plate because at 23 years old he seemed likely to improve offensively and his defense was excellent right away. Unfortunately, he's since stagnated offensively to the point that he's essentially posted identical numbers in five straight seasons:
YEAR OBP SLG OPS 2005 .296 .370 .666 2006 .310 .403 .713 2007 .308 .418 .725 2008 .300 .392 .691 2009 .302 .372 .674
Betancourt is now 27 years old and hasn't improved a lick offensively. He still swings at everything, he still has very little power, and he still stinks as a baserunner. Of course, his annual .700 OPS would still be just fine if his defense remained excellent. But it's not. Here are his yearly Ultimate Zone Rating totals per 150 games:
YEAR R/150 2005 +2.1 2006 +0.7 2007 -1.4 2008 -12.7 2009 -28.2
This season's ghastly -28.2 runs per 150 games is based on just two weeks, but there's a pretty clear pattern emerging. For all his stagnation offensively, the bigger issue with Betancourt is the weight he's added and the range he's lost at shortstop.
Outstanding outfield defense is a big reason why the Mariners are 8-5 after losing 101 games last season, and the new regime seems unlikely to let Betancourt ruin the infield defense for much longer.