Bold Prediction: Yunel Escobar Will Lose His Starting Spot

Updated: February 12, 2017

Halo fans have seen the good and the bad of Yunel Escobar over the past year. We’ve seen him be the most consistent hitter in the lineup not named Mike Trout and we’ve also seen him be the worst fielder in the entire AL West. He’s only still with the Halos because he’s been a reliable bat in the leadoff spot, but that is bound to change. Brace yourself Angel fans; Yunel Escobar will lose his starting spot by the All-Star break.

Last season, Esky hit .304 on a BABIP of .339. The league average BABIP is about .300. In other words, Escobar got extremely lucky last season. Assuming his BABIP went down to league average and his batting average fell at the same rate, he would have hit .279. That’s not good for a guy who hits singles almost exclusively. He has no power, so he would serve almost no purpose hitting top or middle of the lineup with those numbers. He is due to regress this season, meaning his BABIP and average should dip below league average.

What he would give up on the offensive side of the ball won’t be made up at the hot corner. According to FanGraphs, Escobar was one of the three worst third basemen last season. He was worthy of their prestigious Iron Glove awards. He gave up 11 runs below average at the hot corner last season, while only being worth eight runs above average on offense (league average wRC+ is 100. Escobar had 108).

If Escobar does regress, expect him to be ousted from his starting position by July. The Angels already have a major league ready third baseman in Jefry Marte, yet he is blocked by both Escobar and Luis Valbuena on the depth chart. Last season, Marte showed flashes of greatness, hitting 15 home runs and maintaining a .252 average and a .481 slugging percentage on a BABIP of just .267. If he sees some time in the majors, some more hits should come his way if his BABIP rises. He was decent defensively with a Rdrs of 1 in 160 innings at third. Not great, but still better than Escobar’s -11. The most convincing stats for Marte taking over, though, are WAR and wRC+. In 88 games and 284 at-bats, Marte collected 1.5 WAR and a wRC+ of 114. Escobar played in 132 games and had nearly double the at-bats. He was worth 1.6 WAR and had a wRC+ of 108. Marte’s beginning was just as good as Yunel’s peak.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Marte at the hot corner some time in the middle of the season. If Escobar’s numbers start to slip, Marte should be the first option. With the addition of Cameron Maybin, Marte wouldn’t have to worry about hitting for average and worry more about driving in runs, something that he does better than Escobar. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see Escobar on the trade block come early June. If the Angels are going to pencil in Marte instead of Esky, they might as well get something of value for him rather than have him on the bench.

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