Yunel Escobar Most Overrated Player on Angels’ Roster.

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Updated: April 28, 2017

The Angels haven’t really had a lot of great things going for them in recent years. They’ve struggled mightily, and have had troubles surrounding Mike Trout with much help. So, having a player like Yunel Escobar, who consistently hits over .300 with a good on-base percentage, is something you’ll hear them talking about a lot. Look closely, however, and you’ll actually see that Escobar is extremely overrated. Maybe not across the league, since most people know that Escobar isn’t actually all that good. Watch an Angels’ game or listen to Roger Lodge, though, and you’ll think Escobar is the next Tony Gwynn. Needless to say, he’s not.

First things first, Escobar doesn’t actually ‘consistently hit over .300’ at all. He’s been in the league since 2007, and in those ten years has hit over .300 only three times, and one was a ninety-four game rookie season. That’s only two full seasons of hitting over .300, and they were each of the past two seasons. His career average is only .282, which isn’t bad, but shows he definitely does not hit over .300 very often. Beyond that, batting averages don’t tell the whole story, and are mostly overrated. For example, would you rather have Escobar’s 2016 season, where he batted .304 but only had thirty-four extra base hits, or Mike Trout’s 2014 season, where he hit ‘only’ .287 but had eighty-four extra base hits? Batting average only tells part of the story, and there’s a reason a high batting average is not deemed as valuable as it once was.

Let’s take a closer look at Escobar’s 2016 season. Escobar did hit .304, which was good for ninth in the A.L. He had 157 hits, but only thirty-four of those were extra base hits. He had 123 singles. He only hit five home runs all year long. Getting hits is nice, but Escobar has zero power. Escobar’s .355 OBP was above average, but all of those hits only led to sixty-eight runs. Escobar only came around to score about a third of the time he got on base. That’s not good, particularly when you consider that Trout and Albert Pujols‘ had 100 and 119 RBI, respectively, batting behind Escobar. Any Angels’ fan that watched the team last year will tell you that Escobar is terrible on the base paths. Escobar did not steal a base all season, and consistently got thrown out making stupid decisions on the base paths. For how often Escobar was on base, advanced stats show that he created exactly… zero runs for the Halos on the season. That means that for every run Escobar helped create, he made a poor decision on the base paths that cost a run. Having your leadoff hitter be terrible on the base paths is not good for your team, to say the least.

So, Escobar gets some hits, but has zero power, no speed, and consistently makes outs on the base paths where he shouldn’t. So there’s not much value there. What about his defense? Well…. it’s not good. Let me rephrase that; it’s downright terrible. That might be putting it lightly, actually. To his credit, Escobar has looked somewhat competent at times this season, and seems to have the potential to play a strong defensive third base if not for consistent lapses in focus and judgement. Those lapses are there far too often, though, and for every spectacular play Escobar makes, there’s ten boneheaded plays that make you shake your head. Escobar had nineteen errors last year, fifth in the A.L. and second for third baseman. His fielding percentage of .937 was last among qualifying A.L. third basemen. Escobar cost the Halos between fifteen or nineteen runs depending on what stat you use. Again, his defense was downright terrible.

We haven’t even mentioned how out of place Escobar is in the leadoff spot. For a player that doesn’t create any runs, having him at the top of the order seems counterproductive. Moving Escobar down in the lineup could at least maximize his contact skills, where his singles could at least potentially drive in runs. Chalk it up to yet another questionable Mike Scioscia decision. Escobar also generally has a bad attitude and an overall lack of discipline, focus, and effort. Consider all that, and you have a player that is extremely overrated by his own franchise. There’s a reason why Escobar doesn’t usually hang around with a franchise for more than a few seasons, and why the teams he is on aren’t usually very good.

So, to recap, Escobar offers no power, costs the Angels runs on the base paths, plays terrible defense, has no focus, no discipline, lacks effort, and has a bad attitude a lot of the time. All of that adds up to a player that cost the Angels’ wins against what an average player would have given the Angels in his place. Say whatever you want about what Escobar has given the team, but a player that hits a bunch of singles and literally does nothing else is just not that valuable. Escobar is a free agent at the end of this year, and the hope is that the Angels let him walk. Escobar might be a fit on a very good team as a pinch hitter/utility infielder, but having him at the top of your lineup is just not right. On the surface, it seems like Escobar is a valuable player, but when you take a closer look, he’s simply overrated.

 

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