Willians Astudillo celebrating with Caribes de Anzoátegui

La Tortuga Rides Again!

If you give me a chance to write about Willians Astudillo I am going to do exactly that. La Tortuga is a worldwide treasure and I will celebrate him at every turn. This winter I wasn’t given much reason to write about your favorite and mine, well, except for the giant brawl he started. He ended up suspended five games for his role in instigating a brawl where he was, admittedly, completely at fault. Then, he had some minor injuries and didn’t play as much.

Due to a lack of consistent streaming capability displayed by Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional this season I wasn’t able to watch very much LVBP action. I saw the aforementioned brawl, and then a few other Caribes de Anzoátegui games in the regular seasons and round-robin. Not enough to really follow what was going on. For that reason, I didn’t think I would be writing about LVBP at all this year. Then Carlos Marcano sent me this tweet,

Keep looking at all those flashy numbers, you know you want to. I knew, now, that I had a reason to write about the LVBP. Where there’s a La Tortuga, there is always a way. So, yes, he was involved in an awful brawl that was entirely his fault. No, he hasn’t offered up much responsibility for his role in that brawl and is hiding behind the old-school bullshit of “we play the game a certain way.” That entire situation is definitely a knock against Astudillo, but at the end of the day he’s still La Tortuga and he has been on fire.

Astudillo was limited during the LVBP regular season. He only appeared in 30 games and amassed 128 plate appearances. He slashed .270/.353/.396 with three home runs and five doubles. He still had a Tortuga-esque three strikeouts, but in every other way, it was a very down regular season for someone who has proven himself year after year to be a perennial Most Valuable Player candidate in Venezuela’s premier league.

What’s that, an MVP candidate you say? Funny that should come up because after the above regular season Astudillo found his form again and obliterated LVBP pitching throughout the round-robin on his way to guiding the Caribes to another LVBP final and taking home round-robin MVP honors. How hot was Astudillo? Does a .410/.439/.639 slash line in 66 plate appearances sound good? Let’s add in only one strikeout, four home runs, and two doubles. If you’re not impressed yet, then I’m not sure what would impress you. Astudillo did what great baseball players do and absolutely found another level when his team needed him to the most. Maybe there’s no quantifiable reason for his hot streak and perhaps it was nothing more than a hot streak at an opportune time. To that, I say, who cares, he was red hot, he’s La Tortuga, and that’s all that matters.

Despite a slow regular season, Astudillo enters the LVBP finals slashing .320/.381/.483 with seven home runs and seven doubles. It’s not the best season of his career, but he’s closer to the player he usually is than what the regular season alone showed. Come playoff time Astudillo did what he always seems to do in LVBP and while I only got to see little pieces here and there it’s still fun to find out about and share with the world. Flaws be damned, this remains a pro-La Tortuga zone now and forever.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – TwinsTrivia

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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