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Yuniesky Betancourt (born January 31, 1982, in Santa Clara, Cuba) is a Major League Baseball shortstop for the Kansas City Royals. He resides in Boca Raton, Florida.

Cuban leagues[]

His early career was spent in the Cuban leagues, including Villa Clara of the Serie Nacional. He was considered the fastest second baseman in the Cuban leagues and the star of the Villa Clara team. In the finals against the Industriales in 2002, he got a hit in nearly every at bat, though the Industriales won, 4 games to 0. He left Cuba on a speedboat in December 2003 [1] and ended up in Mexico, where he played for a while before signing with Seattle Mariners scouts Bob Engle and Patrick Guerrero on January 26, 2005[2]. He made his major league debut on July 28, 2005.

Professional career[]

Seattle Mariners[]


Betancourt playing for the Seattle Mariners in 2007.

Betancourt's calling card has been his fielding. In his first few seasons, he was fast becoming one of the best fielders in the game, combining excellent range, quickness, soft hands, hand-eye coordination, and his strong, accurate throwing arm. He was named one of the top fielders in baseball in a 2006 online fan's poll.[3] In 2007, he made many good fielding plays.[4] However, he suffered through spells of throwing wildness that season. Bad throws accounted for most of his 18 errors in the first half of 2007, almost as many as his 2006 total of 20. He turned things around and made only 5 errors in the second half of 2007. His defense suffered in 2008, with several fielding metrics calling him one of the worst shortstops in baseball.[5][6]

Betancourt has been a decent hitter with some gap power who rarely strikes out or walks. He has been criticized for his lack of plate discipline and inability to bunt.[7][8] In 2006, he walked only 3.0% of the time, the second-worst percentage in major league baseball.[9] However, he only struck out 9.7% of the time, one of the top 20 percentages.[9]

Betancourt was among the league leaders in batting with runners in scoring position and game-winning RBI in 2007. In a late season game in 2007, former Mariner Mike Blowers referred to Betancourt as being "unreal" when batting with runners on in close late games-a result at odds with his career statistics. He hit his first grand slam in a 7-6 win against the Chicago White Sox on August 11, 2007.

In 2008, he again walked only 3.0% of the time, the worst percentage in Major League Baseball. [10] His strikeout rate dropped to 7.5%. [11] He also saw the fewest pitches per plate appearance of all major leaguers, 3.15.[1]

Kansas City Royals[]

On July 10, 2009, he was acquired by the Kansas City Royals along with a portion of his salary for Minor League pitchers Derrick Saito and Dan Cortes.[12]

In 2009, he had the lowest on base percentage of any starter in the major leagues, at .274[13], and the lowest slugging percentage in the American League with .351.


  1. Mariners' Betancourt can't leave journey from Cuba behind. Seattle Times. Retrieved on April 13, 2009.
  3. The 2006 Scouting Report by the Fans for the Fans. Tom Tango.
  4. Shortstop ATG. Joe Posnanski.
  5. 2008 Shortstops Fielding Statistics.
  6. 2008 Plus/Minus Leaders. The Fielding Bible.
  7. Memorable Moments. The Seattle Times.
  8. Betancourt bunting on his own. The Seattle Times.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Advanced stats. Retrieved on June 27, 2007. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "fangraphs" defined multiple times with different content
  10. Advanced stats. Retrieved on April 13, 2009.
  11. Advanced stats. Retrieved on April 13, 2009.
  13. Player Batting Stats - 2009," ESPN, accessed October 9, 2009

External links[]