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Eduardo Escobar Is Back To His Old Approach, Back To The Bench

Posted by Tom Froemming , 17 August 2016 · 1,403 views

eduardo escobar
Heading into this season, it appeared Eduardo Escobar had cemented himself as the Twins' starting shortstop. He'd put together two-straight above average offensive seasons and ended his 2015 season with a big exclamation point. With a poor showing thus far in 2016, however, Escobar's place on the team is now very much in question.

Escobar performed admirably in 2014, taking over for Pedro Florimon and fending off rookie Danny Santana for playing time. He hit .275/.315/.406 and ranked 10th in the AL with 35 doubles. Still, he seemed like more of a band aid at the position than an attractive long-term option.

Santana re-entered the picture to start 2015, but once he faltered there was steady Eduardo to step in. At the time, it was disappointing to see the talented young Santana fail to take advantage of an opportunity and Escobar again just seemed to be a stop gap. The team was in contention and he was the best option.

His performance over the last two months of the season changed that perception. Escobar hit .287 with eight homers, 27 RBI and 31 runs over his final 56 games played. Extrapolated over a 162 game period, that equates to 23 home runs, 78 RBI and 90 runs. He went from stop gap to the solution. Unfortunately, that performance appears to have been a mirage.

A big element to Escobar's game that fueled his hot finish to 2015 was an improved approach at the plate. He has been unable to carry that over to 2016.

2014: 5.2 BB%, .315 OBP

First half 2015: 3.7 BB%, .285 OBP

Second half 2015: 8.7 BB%, .330 OBP

2016: 3.4 BB%, .283 OBP


That second half spike from last season appears to simply be a huge outlier at this point. Escobar has an ugly triple slash of .259/.283/.380 on the season and to top it off advanced defensive metrics suggest his glove work has declined, as well.

The trade of Eduardo Nunez appeared to have opened the door back up for Escobar to take over at short, but instead Jorge Polanco has started six of the past nine games. The organization has always seemed hesitant to commit to Escobar, but now his performance has justified that stance.

With an additional two seasons of team control which should come at modest prices, Escobar entered the year in a perfect position to slap a long-term stranglehold on the starting shortstop gig. No one could've seen the emergence of Nunez coming, but Escobar has also played himself out of the picture.

With his ability to switch hit and play multiple positions, he's got an attractive skill set for a utility player, but with how far his performance has fallen off it's anyone's guess what the new front office regime will ultimately decide to do with Escobar.

It's not too late to rule out another late season surge from Escobar, but at this point it certainly appears the franchises' instability at shortstop will continue. Over the past ten seasons the Twins have had nine different Opening Day shortstops.




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Hosken Bombo Disco
Aug 17 2016 03:46 PM

I'm happy limping along with Escobar for another season or two.

 

Going into 2017 my Plan A would be: Sano 3B, Polanco at SS, Escobar as Utility. 

 

Plan B if Sano cannot play third: Polanco 3B, Escobar SS

 

What are your thoughts? 

    • Tom Froemming likes this
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Tom Froemming
Aug 17 2016 03:57 PM

 

I'm happy limping along with Escobar for another season or two.

 

Going into 2017 my Plan A would be: Sano 3B, Polanco at SS, Escobar as Utility. 

 

Plan B if Sano cannot play third: Polanco 3B, Escobar SS

 

What are your thoughts? 

That would be ideal. I'm just not confident at this point Polanco can be a solid defensive shortstop. Hopefully I'm wrong.

 

Also, Esco as the utility guy would probably mean Danny Santana would need to go, which I don't have a problem with. But Danny is going to be a bit cheaper than Escobar next season. I wonder if that will play into the decision at all.

 

I think there's a 50/50 chance the Twins 2017 Opening Day shortstop is someone not in the organization right now. Wouldn't surprise me if that's a position the new GM looks to address.

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Hosken Bombo Disco
Aug 17 2016 04:15 PM

 

I think there's a 50/50 chance the Twins 2017 Opening Day shortstop is someone not in the organization right now. Wouldn't surprise me if that's a position the new GM looks to address.

I completely agree. At least 50/50.

 

    • Tom Froemming likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Aug 17 2016 04:16 PM

On the surface, some combination of Escobar, Sano and Polanco on the left side makes for a weak looking group of fielders, but I've made my peace with the error statistic, and those guys make up for it in other ways, so it doesn't really bother me as much as it bothers the next guy.

Escobar is the perfect utility guy. Happily, he should still be a reasonable bargain next season and should be kept around. Not sure what his third year salary will be in 2018.

 

That is assuming Polanco is a true shortstop and will play it for the Twins, which he is doing well, now.

    • Tom Froemming likes this
With Sano and Polance on the left side there is a 50/50 chance a GB will not be caught! :). I love Polanco's bat, he looks like he can flat out hit. But if you give up the glove to put Sano at third, which I would try, you need a glove first guy at SS. And we don't have one here, now. As for EE, his downfall as a utility guy could be Santana's ability to play all OF positions also. With the Twins always at 13 pitchers this means quite a bit. He ain't Buxton level defense, but by now I hope Grossman has played himself out of consideration for '17.
    • Tom Froemming likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Aug 18 2016 02:15 PM

 

With Sano and Polance on the left side there is a 50/50 chance a GB will not be caught! :). I love Polanco's bat, he looks like he can flat out hit. But if you give up the glove to put Sano at third, which I would try, you need a glove first guy at SS. And we don't have one here, now. As for EE, his downfall as a utility guy could be Santana's ability to play all OF positions also. With the Twins always at 13 pitchers this means quite a bit. He ain't Buxton level defense, but by now I hope Grossman has played himself out of consideration for '17.

By 50/50 do you mean either it will or it won't?

 

If so, there is also a 50/50 chance that I will win the lottery this weekend. :)

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Tom Froemming
Aug 18 2016 03:24 PM

Thanks for reading. This has now been published on the front page, hopefully the discussion will continue there.