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LT contracts for current star position players

Other Baseball Today, 09:13 AM
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I said in the 2019 thread that I would start this forum thread...    Let's start populating it. How many former Twins are on ro...

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Postseason Review--Eduardo Escobar

Posted by stringer bell , 07 October 2014 · 2,027 views

utility shortstop platoon splits defense
Entering 2014, I had Eduardo Escobar pegged as a standard-order utility infielder. He was a switch-hitter with a pretty good glove, okay speed who had demonstrated the ability to capably fill in at short, third and second. There was some chatter that EE shouldn't make the Twins coming out of spring training, but most viewed him as a good fit for the utility infielder role. Some wanted to see "Eddie 400" in 2014--that is at least 400 at-bats to see what the still-young Venezuelan could do with more consistent playing time.

The early season gave Escobar his chance. Pedro Florimon, already seen as a subpar hitter, got off to a woeful start and Escobar got several early starts at shortstop. The rest, as they say, is history. Escobar hit .357 in April and backed that up with a .322 (.865 OPS) May. Florimon was demoted and Escobar became the de facto starting shortstop. Escobar returned to earth in June and July--his average fell to .274 at the end of June--and then he stabilized. Eduardo finished with a .275 batting average and his OPS ended at .721, good for a 102 OPS+. The season qualifies as a breakthrough. Escobar had more plate appearances than in his previous three years combined (over a year and a half in the majors). Escobar set career highs in almost every offensive category and played solid defense at the three infield positions (metrics vary) and showed durability.

Esco still has some issues. He struck out 93 times and walked only 24, keeping his OBP relatively low (.315). Many, including myself, doubt that he can replicate his extra base numbers (35 doubles among 43 XBH). Escobar is not a explosive runner and thus will never have excellent range. All of this limits his upside to about what he was this year. Escobar ended up with dramatic platoon splits. In just over 300 ABs, he had only a .654 OPS as a left handed hitter, while in 131 at-bats as a right handed hitter, his OPS was .877. It does appear that Eduardo has been a stronger RH batter throughout his limited major league career.

If someone would have said going into the season that the Twins would have a young switch hitting shortstop who could field capably and be an asset at the bottom of the order, most Twins fans would have been ecstatic and guarantee the guy a starting spot for years, however Escobar's rise coincided with the emergence of Danny Santana, who has the speed and explosiveness that Eddie 400 lacks. Next year's role for Escobar is up in the air. He may revert to a 3-position utility guy, he could become a "10th starter", filling in for multiple infielders, but not having a specific position. Perhaps he can hold shortstop, if Santana stays in the outfield. If injuries occur, Escobar could slide in for whoever gets hurt.




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Physics Guy
Oct 07 2014 09:38 PM

I for one was happy to see Escobar break out this year.I am somewhat skeptical of him improving on what he did this year and actually believe he is more likely to regress a bit.A small regression still makes him an above average middle IF.My personal preference is to use him as the "10th starter" with Santana at SS for next year and Hicks in CF.If Hicks doesn't take hold of CF then maybe we put Santana back in CF as a placeholder until Buxton makes it up.As a 10th starter we can sit him against the better LHP.Whatever the Twins decide to do, Escobar has made himself into a valuable member of the team. 

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Paul Pleiss
Oct 08 2014 03:15 AM

I was rooting for the Eddie400 all season long and was happy to see it come to pass. I don't know that SanDana can handle SS at the MLB level. That was the knock on him coming into 2014, and he didn't get many reps there after his promotion. I still don't know if he can do it. He has work to do offensively, as well. But this isn't about Sandana, this is about Eddie. What a great season.

 

I too have doubts about his XBH potential going forward, and that lack of walks could be an issue, but he's young, and he made significant improvements in 2014. I think he'll do the same in 2015, all while holding down SS for the Twins.

 

I don't know why Eduardo Nunez was given reps at SS over Eddie400. Maybe Gardy got them confused. Both could be servicable utilitiy guys, but I like Escobar over Nunez everyday.

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stringer bell
Oct 08 2014 05:19 AM

Physics guy--there is zero reason to sit Escobar against left handers.He was a better hitter against lefties than Plouffe, Dozier, or Santana.He was a far superior alternative to Mauer and Arcia against southpaws.

Escobar beat my modest expectations by a mile and further shows why we should continue to believe in Terry Ryan.He did show some line drive ability last year so while 35 2Bs is high for anyone with that few ABs in a season I do have confidence he will hit 2Bs at a better than average rate.his batting line this year is Mauer lite.Mauers line without the walks. 

 

For next year, I am fine with him at SS while Santana holds down CF for a bit.Though he is a good candidate to be included in a trade package for a starting pitcher.Both the Mets and Cincinnati have pitchers to trade and a need at SS.I personally like Niese as he is a LHP with 2 years and 2 options years on a contract at a reasonable price.maybe add in a reliever or minor leaguer to balance this out.....

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Physics Guy
Oct 08 2014 03:36 PM

Physics guy--there is zero reason to sit Escobar against left handers.He was a better hitter against lefties than Plouffe, Dozier, or Santana.He was a far superior alternative to Mauer and Arcia against southpaws.

Yep, misread what you wrote.He struggled more as a lefthanded hitter, which would be against RHP.He should sit against the better RHP.The problem is we don't really have a good LHB to sub in for him.It's too bad Hicks has the same platoon problem that Esco has.Otherwise maybe a Santana at CF/SS and Esco/Hicks platoon would be a short-term answer.The problem is, I wouldn't want someboy regularly switching off between SS and CF.Doesn't seem too great for development.

 

Since you mentioned it for Escobar, I looked up some numbers for a few other pertinent players.Santana was good from both sides of the plate, although slightly better as a lefty.Escobar was much better as a righty.Plouffe has improved his platoon splits and is no longer a liability vs RHP.The one that shocked me was Hicks.I knew he was much better from the right side, but this is crazy:

 

vs RHP.178 BA/.300 OBP/.212 SLG

vs LHP.279 BA/.410 OBP/.382 SLG

I could see some regression for Escobar for certain. On the other hand, more experience could see improvement in his splits as well. He is no power hitter, but I have been pleasantly surprised with the strength in his line drives when making decent contact. I don't think he is just a Punch and Judy hitter who got lucky. He was a huge and pleasant surprise to be sure. And if it weren't for Santana, I think we'd all revel in Escobar's season even more than we have. And he's done absolutely nothing to warrant a loss of a starting position, unless his regression was rather drastic. But Escobar does have a strike against him, and that's Santana. Santana is simply a better athlete, with even more range and dynamic ability, at least potentially. And it's the same at the plate as in the field, Santana is just more dynamic offensively as well. Ultimately, I think Escobar does become that 10th starter, and still plays a lot.
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Physics Guy
Oct 08 2014 07:36 PM

Agree that Escobar really doesn't deserve to lose a starting spot, but this sort of thing happens.I still believe Hicks has a higher ceiling than Escobar (but also a lower floor) and I think the defense with Hicks in CF and Santana at SS is better than Santana in CF and Esco at SS.Plus having Esco as the utility IF makes us stronger defensively.I could very easily see either scenario happening in April.I think the 10th starter role is a great spot for him.