Here's the offensive season of Alcides Escobar: 1) really awful and borderline unplayable, 2) awesome and one of the most valuable players in the game, 3) awful again.
On July 19th I wrote about the remarkable turnaround of Alcides Escobar's offensive game. Not that I planned it or anything, but that date turned out to be the highpoint of Escobar's 2011 campaign. Here's what he's done:
- Opening Day - June 3 (218 PAs): .204/.239/.239
- June 4-July 19th (148 PAs): .336/.382/.493
- July 20-Aug 21st (118 PAs): .229/.248/.303
Add all that up and on the season, Escobar is hitting .250/.285/.331, good for a 72 OPS+. The encouraging thing is that although his batting average and walks have collapsed again, he's still hitting for some doubles power, which has been the hallmark of his mid-summer resurgence. Surprisingly, according to the advanced metrics, he may be generating more pure value with his bat than his glove, as more and more glove-first SSes continue to populate the game. It's all about relative competition.
His fWar is 1.6, brWar 1.8. Certainly nice numbers for a minimum salary player under team control for many more years. Still, we need to maintain perspective, as he's 10th amongst AL SSes in WAR, right between Derek Jeter and Marco Scutaro.
As I've written a few times, I do think there is a tendency to overrate slick fielders such as Escobar, simply because we just don't have much information. Again, imagine analyzing offense if we only had two or three stats, which were all generally mistrusted. Who is better: Pujols or Tulo? You'd see the same kind of hazy generalizations and unverifiable notions. Curtis Granderson has been worth 20 games this year with his bat!! etc So in sum, I'm sure Escobar is very good defensively, but we're really almost guessing on the context and there's a continually push to hyperbole.
I really like Escobar for the league minimum and if there are enough hitters elsewhere in the lineup to score runs. He won't hit arbitration until 2013 and assuming he doesn't win a gold glove, he should remain reasonably cheap for years to come. The matter of the rest of the lineup, however, remains to be seen.