From May through July 22nd, 2010; Alberto Callaspo was the starting Royals third baseman, and had been one of the most productive bats in 2009 for Kansas City. He was traded to the Angels to help them upgrade at third base and provide some depth. Although in the offseason most fans thought that Callaspo's bat needed to be in the lineup, very few were upset over the trade that sent him packing.
And for the remainder of the season, we get to watch Wilson Betemit handle the duties at Third Base. Wilson Betemit, who is too old to be a real prospect (he is 28 years old), but who started the season at Triple A Omaha. Presumably because no other Major League team wanted him. The reason for this was simple. He wasn't very good. This year, in limited duty, he's been getting the job done. In fact, he's been better than Alberto Callaspo. It's logical to assume that this is because of small sample size. But, looking closely at the data, it appears that he may have figured something out. He's improved in two key areas of plate discipline. He is swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone, and he has been good at making contact on pitches inside the strike zone. The result? 30 hits in 96 plate appearances and 12 walks. He's certainly gotten lucky on some of those batted balls, but he's also a good bet to make solid contact. In the only two seasons where he saw any kind of regular duty at the Major League level he slugged 32 homers in 696 At Bats; and that happened when he was just 24 and 25 years old. He has a history of power.
Using my own baseball sim, which is heavily dependent on Plate Discipline, his batting average should be around .260 - .320 (usually around .290) with solid OBP numbers between .320-.360. He should post a slg in the 475 - 525 range, which is pretty solid. His numbers are very comparable to Alberto Callaspo, but with a touch more power. Wilson Betemit is a good guy to have around. He'll be a solid regular and a fantastic backup who should get to see playing time almost every day. And if you want to give him 600 ABs, he might reward you with 30 homeruns, and is a pretty good bet for 15 homers. He's not a defensive sub though, so he should probably stay in the American League. Hello Betemit, you're our new Callaspo. Let's hope his new found plate discipline isn't a mirage.
Here's the quote I lean on for belief that he actually HAS changed his approach:
"I just wanted to go up there and have quality at-bats," Betemit said. "I didn't want to just go up there and swing. I want to go up there, get a good a good pitch to hit and have a good at-bat." [kcroyals.com Betemit primed...]
My sim's line for Wilson Betemit: .300/.343/.543 (that's avg, obp, and slg) with an OPS of .886 and an iso of .212 in 580 Plate Appearances. that includes 35 walks and 18 homeruns.
My sim is much less friendly to Alberto Callaspo. .284/.308/.515 with an OPS of .823 and an iso of .214 in 516 Plate Appearances. Good for 16 homeruns and 17 walks.