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Eduardo Escobar Blog Entry

defense escobar power speed utility infielders
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#1 stringer bell

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 11:32 PM

I wanted to start a discussion on the status of Escobar as an everyday player. I decided to contrast and compare him with previous Twins' utility infielders. Due to the length of that comparison, I posted the entry as a blog entry http://twinsdaily.co...lity-Infielders

I hope this starts some conversation about the future roles on the Twins of Eduardo Escobar.

#2 goulik

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 07:38 AM

Nice write up. As a Utility guy, Punto has always been my favorite for the leadership he brought. Escobars personality rivals Punto and I think he has that same potential. His stats this year are starter worthy though so we will see what he is Long term

#3 Brandon

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 07:57 AM

I think Escobar is still developing and transitioning from being a utility player to being an everyday one. He is now the everyday SS. The only reason he is playing third is because Plouffe is hurt and Santana doesn't have experience there.

On a fun note there was an article about the top 10 utility players of all time in terms of playing time Reboulet was number 1, Newman made the top 10 and so did Hocking. Punto was a starter so he wasn't in the running. I think its funny that the Twins value middle IF back up consistency so much more than all of the other teams.

#4 ScottyB

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 07:58 AM

What about Matt Tolbert - 4 years, 103 2B, 64 3B, 51 SS, .230 BA, 3 HR, 17 SB, .607 OPS, 65 OPS+ (between Punto and Carroll).

Best utility guy ever for the Twinks was Cesar Tovar IMHO, but he started quite a bit - CF, 2B and 3B. And of course the game where he played all 9 positions (and struck out Reggie Jackson!)

Edited by ScottyB, 22 June 2014 - 08:02 AM.


#5 Seth Stohs

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 08:02 AM

In a utility infielder, I definitely believe in defense-first. Punto was perfectly cast as a utility infielder because he was so good at all three infield positions. That's been the mold that the team has looked for, as you pointed out, since Newman.

Escobar was always considered a utility guy, likely because he came up with the White Sox as a utility guy. Even though he was like 21 or 22. This is really the first time he's been given a chance to be an everyday player, and he's performed well. The question is whether or not he can continue to hit, and post a .750+ OPS. I don't think we know that answer yet. At worse, he's a terrific utility infielder.

#6 stringer bell

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 09:32 AM

What about Matt Tolbert - 4 years, 103 2B, 64 3B, 51 SS, .230 BA, 3 HR, 17 SB, .607 OPS, 65 OPS+ (between Punto and Carroll).

Best utility guy ever for the Twinks was Cesar Tovar IMHO, but he started quite a bit - CF, 2B and 3B. And of course the game where he played all 9 positions (and struck out Reggie Jackson!)

Oops, forgot about Tolbert. I guess I didn't remember him playing short enough to be a three-position guy. I think of Tovar as an unassigned regular. For several years, he was in the lineup every day, including one year when he played 164 games. The nine positions thing was a stunt, but he played a lot of games at second, third, short and the outfield. I have been hoping the Twins would develop a super-utility guy like Tony Phillips was for the A's and the Tigers, a true starter who could move all over the diamond

#7 Paul Pleiss

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 03:06 PM

I think it's easy to imagine Escobar sticking around for a few years. With Sano's expected arrival next season sometime, it will be interesting to see what the Twins do with Plouffe. Does he become a bench bat, 3B, corner OF guy? I think Danny Santana will be a key player to watch when thinking about the long term viability of a guy like Escobar. At this point, he's played well enough defensively, has positional versatility and has been hitting great. If he keeps hitting, the Twins will keep playing him everyday. If not, I think he still has value as a utility guy. Maybe could even handle some OF duties with some work int he off-season or spring training. Ben Zobrist type?
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#8 Sconnie

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 03:43 PM

The phrase "utility infielder" in context with the Minnesota Twins brings shudders up my spine. In other organizations it wouldn't any more than "fourth outfielder", except Gardy loves to play the fourth outfielder Ala Nick Punto every day.

I don't have a problem with Escobar playing every day. As SS goes, he's the best combination of hitting and fielding since Hardy, but he's no where near the hitter that Hardy is. If Santana can prove himself to be THE Shortstop, it would be awesome to have Escobar as the utility infielder, provided the manager plays him as such. Additionally Esco can play a descent 3base and 2base without his hitting suffering too badly, I think he's a very good candidate.

if Santana can't prove himself to be THE SS, Esco is a fine stopgap.

#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 04:05 PM

The phrase "utility infielder" in context with the Minnesota Twins brings shudders up my spine. In other organizations it wouldn't any more than "fourth outfielder", except Gardy loves to play the fourth outfielder Ala Nick Punto every day.


This isn't actually true, though backups do need to play to keep fresh and starters do need days off. Escobar wouldn't be playing as much this year if Florimon hadn't been so terrible. Dozier and Plouffe play most every day, and Florimon would have played 4 of 5, or 4 of 6 if he were doing much of anything this year.

#10 stringer bell

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 04:52 PM

Agree Seth. The meme that Punto was played because Gardy loved his game was flawed because most of the time Punto played, he was the best the club had to offer, sadly.

#11 Twinsoholic

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 04:59 PM

Escobar has been one of my favorite players this season. All he does is hit and play great defense. How many doubles does he have now? If I were selecting a mid-season Twins MVP, I might be tempted to go with Dozier, but I am more tempted to go with either Escobar or Suzuki. Dozier plays great defense, hits homers, and hustles. Escobar plays defense very well, hustles, battles his tail off, to use one of Gardy's favorite expressions, and he has been Mr. Clutch so often with the bat. Suzuki has been out of this world with the bat, great working with the pitching staff (has caught four games in a row), and also hustles. His one area of weakness is gunning down base stealers, but, hey, he's doing everything else so well that the base stealing issue is really no issue to this point.

The good news is that there are so many possible mid-season MVPs to this point.

#12 Thrylos

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 06:09 PM

Best utility guy ever for the Twinks was Cesar Tovar IMHO, but he started quite a bit - CF, 2B and 3B. And of course the game where he played all 9 positions (and struck out Reggie Jackson!)


I'd take Bill Larkin and Randy Bush over Tovar any time. They got the rings to prove it too ;)
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#13 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 07:24 PM

I'd take Bill Larkin and Randy Bush over Tovar any time. They got the rings to prove it too ;)

Bill Larkin?

#14 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 07:30 PM

I am happy to see what Escobar has done thus far into the season. The guy is no pip squeak, he may not be the tallest guy or have a lot of girth, but he is built pretty sturdy, has some meat one his bones.

The thunder in his bat is real and he has some speed, he can stick at SS and has a cannon of an arm.

Right now, it is all about whether his bat is smoke and mirrors, of which I don't believe to be the case. If he can keep his average over .260, I believe you will get the necessary outcome you want from your starting SS.

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.


#15 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 07:41 PM

I'd take Bill Larkin and Randy Bush over Tovar any time. They got the rings to prove it too ;)


Larkin and Bush were good, but were primarily OF/DH types, similar to Bill Parmelee's role today. ;)

#16 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 07:42 PM

Bill Larkin?


He can't mean Barry Larkin... Right?

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.


#17 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 08:10 AM

"Mean" Gene Larkin.

#18 ScottyB

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 09:26 AM

I'd take Bill Larkin and Randy Bush over Tovar any time. They got the rings to prove it too ;)


They were bench guys 1B; corner OF; DH; PH, not utility guys, and my statement stands.

Tovar: 8 years (as a Twin); 76 games SS; 178 - 3B; 185 - 2B; 281 - LF; 370 - CF; 127 - RF
WAR 21.7; SB's - 35 - 1968, 45 - 1969, 30 - 1970; BA - .281; OPB - .335; OPS - .703; OPS+ - 100; Led League in Games Played 1967 - 164, Plate Appearances 1967 - 726, AB's 1967 - 649, Hits 1971 - 204, Doubles 1970 - 36, Triples 1970 - 13; 5 times in the top 25 in League MVP voting.

He was an everyday player, but you could plug him in anywhere and count on good to excellent defense and ability to hit. He wasn't a power guy, but he was a spark plug.

That my friend is the definition of utility. On my all-time Twins team, he is definitely at the head of the class as my utility player.

By the way in 7 and 12 years as Twins, Larkin and Bush each had a total WAR of 1.6 each. I'll take Tovar over Larkin and Bush any time (even with their rings).

#19 JB_Iowa

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 04:40 PM

Derek Wetmore had a nice little human interest story on Escobar. Thought I'd post it here:

http://www.1500espn....the_wave_062314

#20 DocBauer

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 08:55 PM

Escobar was unfairly tagged with the monicker "utility player" because he was brought up too quickly by the Sox, and sat on the bench and was used as a fill in. When the Twins acquired him, I believe, they saw potential as a SS, but he hadn't show much with the bat to that point, and last year we had Florimon.

This season, obviously, preparation, talent and opportunity have manifested itself in to an everyday, quality ball player. He has shown the ability to hit, produce some pop and the speed to make it count, and I don't think it's a fluke. Now, a .290 hitter? I'm doubting it. Just as I doubt Santana is truly a .320 hitter. I mean, how many are there in baseball? But even with regression, I think both these guys can hit. I believe Santa, with better speed, is probably a candidate for the better career hitting numbers overall.

What impresses me most about each of them, frankly, is the approach each has at the plate. Neither looks intimidated or overmatched. When they make outs, even strike out, they don't look silly or seem as though they don't belong. Santana in particular impresses me considering his youth, his lack of AAA experience, and a reputation of being impatient. And yet, he's actually walking a bit. And maybe it's just when I watch/listen but he seems to always take a lot of pitches, and does a nice job fouling off offerings, making the pitcher work. And when both these guys get their extra base hits, they don't seem to be the bloop or badly played variety, but rather solid line drives to a gap or down the line.

And when it comes to utility types, don't forget about Nunez. Minors and majors he's shown the ability to hit, posses a little power and some speed. He might not posses the best glove of the three, but he's at least capable.

Now, now maybe next season, maybe this season, everything comes crashing down. But I doubt it. Not with talent possessed, and what we've seen so far. How awesome to have Dozier at 2B, two potential quality SS's who can hit and contribute, and a true solid utility guy in Nunez?! Just a couple seasons ago we were borderline desperate for anyone to fill in our middle infield. And this doesn't include Polanco, possibly Rosario, and Gordon farther down the line.

Going forward, I really like Escobar, and have enjoyed him finally getting his shot. Assuming CF is at least temporarily settled next season, I guess he and Santana fight it out for the starting SS job. I'm not sure we lose there. Ultimately, Santana is probably the more dynamic athlete with the greater potential. But whichever plays the best overall will be the starter, and the other will assume a "utility" role. And that's not a bad thing. As stated, from Newman to Reboulet and Hocking to Pinto, the Twins have enjoyed valuable contributions over the past years from players in that role. And over such a long season, and 6 games a week, this is a very important part of your ball club.

I know we've all been sick of an OF at times this season that has consisted of middle infielders filling 2 or even all 3 spots at times. And I pray better health and roster building precludes this from happening again. However, at times, all of these guys been out there. All three of these guys have some athletic ability and baseball acumen. And to create maximum roster flexibility and efficiency, whoever doesn't start, I'd like to see drill more on the OF in order to provide OF play as an option on their "utility" resume.

#21 DocBauer

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 09:04 PM

Favorite all time Twins utility infielder? Man that's hard! And I confess, I forgot about Tolbert.

"Is that you Tolbert? At least you could have said you were the Yankees." (Slight edit) Sorry, MAJOR LEAGUE flashback there.

This is a tough call. I loved Newman. He played good defense, ran well, stole some bases and always hustled.

And while just couldn't accept him for whatever reason, maybe because Gardenhire loved him too much and expected too much, I was always a Nicky P lover. *see Newman*

But I think my favorite was Denny Hocking. At different times, he played all 7 non C positions. Like the others, he hustled, stole a few bases, and was the first player, that I can remember, to have twins, long before Joe Mauer made it cool. So I guess I gotta go with Denny.

#22 stringer bell

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 09:36 PM

Thanks for your thoughts, Doc. Too long to quote, so I'll just comment specifically about guys on the roster right now: Nuñez is an offense-first guy, not typically what the Twins have used in a utility role. However, he is versatile and has a good right handed bat without a noticeable split. I can't see someone with his defense ever being a regular shortstop, but he could be valuable on the bench. Escobar has almost a full year's worth of at-bats and has shown a decent bat and he's shown that he can handle shortstop and third base. I fully trust Escobar in the field and I think his bat is better-than-average for a shortstop. I think the Twins can win with him at short full-time. Escobar won't make many highlight films, won't steal many bases and will probably never be an All-Star. Santana has exciting skills, including explosive speed, but I am not convinced he can handle shortstop defensively. I saw him in spring training and he made mistakes and errors, but has looked much better in a limited sample this regular season. Santana is less than two years younger than Escobar. Because I don't see him as trustworthy with the glove, I can see Santana as a better candidate to be moved around at various positions.

#23 DocBauer

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 10:09 PM

Stringer, not for the first time, you and I are of similar mind. You pretty much hit every point I made.

Intrigued by Nunez as a useful player off the bench, but not a starter.

Both like Escobar and think he can flat out just do the job. Also, probably not an all star. But some really good ball players who can play defense and contribute quality offense aren't all stars.

However, we MIGHT differ a bit on Santana.

I read all the scouting reports on his talent and potential, if he could harness patience. At the plate and in the field. And I read the great reports from Gardy, and I got excited. Then I watched him ST and kind had a "meh" attitude. Dazzle said it best in one broadcast when he commented there were no "wow" moments during ST in regard to Santana.

Flash forward to his promotion, and I confess to being shocked. Not stunned, shocked. I was certain the veteran Bernier, who scrapped his way to the end of the season with the Twins in 2013, had some experience, and was off to a great start in 2014, was the obvious choice. Once I got over my shock, I realized Santana was only brought up because he was on the 40 man, would be gone shortly, wouldn't play except in emergency or as a pinch runner. The coaches would look at him, coach, and then send him right down.

In a season that has had more than a handful of surprises, I'd say Santana might be the biggest of all. Not only was he promoted, but the Twins have played him. Not only that, but they've put him in tough, almost impossible, situations, and have actually counted on him. Ever the optimist, I was still left scratching my head with a WTH look on my face.

I keep waiting for the curtain to fall. And then once again, he has a 5-7 pitch AB that leads to a walk or hit, or he takes 3B on an OF that no-one expected.

I like Escobar, I really do. And I love everything he's done with his opportunity.

But every now and then, there is a talented kid who doesn't seem ready who gets a shot. And whether it's coaching, karma, or a lightning strike, the bulb just comes on, and he's ready. I'm starting to think that might be the case here with Santana. I hope it is because I'm really enjoying the ride!



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