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4/29/1975 (41 y, 9 m, 25 d)
$0.2M / 1 Years (2015)
Betancourt announced his retirement from Major League Baseball on Friday, LiderEndeportes.com reports. (2/26/2016)
The Return of Incredible Rafael Betancourt Fun Fac»
Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs)
Bullpen Report: August 21, 2013
Colin Zarzycki (RotoGraphs)
Baseball Fan Fiction: The Pagan Angel Goes Home
Bradley Woodrum (NotGraphs)
Evening Quiz: Rafael Betancourt or John Cage?
Carson Cistulli (NotGraphs)
FanGraphs presents... FangRafs
Robert J. Baumann (NotGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Rafael Betancourt was already a pretty good reliever when he was traded to the Rockies, but he has been incredible the past two seasons. Over that timeframe, his 61 xFIP- is tied for the best in baseball among relievers with at least 100 innings pitched, and his 10.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio stands alone at the top. Towards the end of last season, Betancourt began pilfering saves from Huston Street, and the Rockies felt confident enough in Betancourt’s steely reserve to jettison Street. Now that he will add saves to his other dominant categories, Betancourt could be one of the better relief plays in the game this season, but because he has never been a full-time closer you probably won’t have to pay that much for him. (Paul Swydan)
The Quick Opinion:
Now the Rockies’ closer, Betancourt should be a great value even if he is only 80-90 percent as effective as he has been the past two seasons.
Betancourt saw both his strikeout and walk percentages move in the wrong direction, but over the past three seasons he has been more than a solid bet. The differential between his K% and BB% over the past three years is a robust 26.5%, which is a top-10 mark among those who closed out games last year. And while Betancourt's swinging strike percentage was down, he still got batters to swing and miss -- both inside and outside the strike zone -- at clips better than league average. If the Rockies collapse again, the team may finally be motivated to move Betancourt and slot in the cheaper Rex Brothers as the team's closer, but that shouldn't affect how you value Betancourt heading into the draft. He may not be a top-10 closer, but if he isn't, he is certainly the 11th- or 12th-best option out there. In other words, if Betancourt is your number-two closer, you're going to be in great shape. (Paul Swydan)
The Quick Opinion:
While he wasn't as dominant as he was in 2011, Betancourt was still very good. Since he was slotted into the closer role, he has proved to be a very valuable fantasy asset.
Relievers are strange as a rule, but Betancourt was doubly so. His warmup routine, in which he threw three to four times as many pitches as a normal reliever, was legendary amongst his teammates. When asked, he would say he simply liked to throw a lot of pitches. Once in the game, he was strange as well. As Jeff Sullivan detailed in
this post from August, 2012
, Betancourt simply didn't throw inside to left-handed batters. And after plunking Marcus Thames in the 10th game of his career back in 2003, Betancourt proceeded to pitch the next 638.1 innings of his career without hitting a batter. One can't be sure if that's a record, but for the period from 2003-2013, there were only 11 pitchers who pitched at least 500 innings and hit 10 or fewer batters. Of those 11, Betancourt was the only one who hit fewer than five. In fact, since 1901, there have only been three other pitchers who have tossed at least 500 career innings and only hit one batter -- Tom Ferrick, Chubby Dean and Johnny Broaca. They pitched in the years spanning 1939-1952. In this era, Betancourt was one of a kind, and it would be sad if his career ended with him on the operating table, but life is often cruel for no good reason.
The Quick Opinion:
For years, Betancourt was an iron horse -- he tossed at least 55 innings out of the bullpen in nine consecutive seasons -- but all good things come to an end. The 38-year-old righty underwent Tommy John surgery in August and will miss the entire 2014 campaign, and given his age and the fungibility of relievers in general, he may have tossed his last pitch in the majors.
For more than a decade, Rafael Betancourt was one of the best -- and the most consistent -- relievers in baseball. He has never had a league-adjusted FIP higher than 104 in any one season, and after he posted that slightly below average season in 2008, he managed to keep his FIP- between 59 and 74 for the next four seasons. He was pretty good in 2013 too (79 FIP-), but he came up injured and would miss all of 2014. At 39, you could be forgiven for thinking that was it for him, but he managed to make a comeback last season. His age-40 season, if you look just at ERA, went very poorly. His 6.18 ERA might have fit in well with the Rockies staff, but they finally bid him adieu to make room for younger players. Turns out though, Betancourt wasn't that bad. He threw fewer fastballs and sliders in favor of more changeups, but otherwise he was pretty much the same guy. He posted an 80 FIP-, and threw his fastball seven times out of 10. If this is it for Betancourt, he'll be remembered as one of the best relievers of the 2000s. Since he came into the league in 2003, he's been the fifth-most valuable relief pitcher, and from 2000-2009, he was the 13th most valuable reliever, which seems notable since he didn't pitch in three of those years. We tip our caps to you, Mr. Betancourt. (Paul Swydan)
The Quick Opinion:
Rafael Betancourt didn't have the best luck in his comeback season, and as a result the 40-year-old may find himself on the outside looking in this season. If so, he had a hell of a career.
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Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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