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Why Alcides Escobar is slumping with the bat

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Esky hasn't been much offensively lately.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps lost in all the celebration of the Royals likely division win and repeat appearance in the playoffs, the Royals previously above average shortstop is struggling. Maybe struggling is too light of a word, if that's possible. Escobar was never a very good hitter. Here's his wRC+ by year:

2010 62
2011 70
2012 97
2013 50
2014 95
2015 66
Career 74

At best Escobar is a league average hitter (which is wonderful for a shortstop) but the more mode outcome is usually a ~25% below league average hitter. That's not necessarily going to kill you in the crib since shortstops average around an 86% wRC+ the past few years and many make up for the offensive deficiency with defensive efficiencies (say that three times fast).

Escobar was pretty dang good in the first half too relatively speaking:

.290 .327 .082 92 7.5 1.8

The first half isn't literally the first half of the season, but Escobar was on pace for his best season ever by fWAR at being worth 3.6 wins.

Let's look at the second half:

.212 .249 .032 33 5.9 -0.4

Okay stop looking at the second half.

Escobar has declined in every area there, hitting for twice as less power, getting on base at a less than .70 clip, and dipping below replacement level.

We've somewhat diagnosed (or tried to) Alcides Escobar's offense twice this year both coincidentally in August but that's never stopped Royals Review from being redundant before. I myself have a very extensive bibliography on this site about how bad Jeremy Guthrie is.

Escobar O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% F-Strike% SwStr%
1st Half 37.70% 68.20% 52.20% 71.40% 90.70% 83.40% 47.70% 68.00% 8.50%
2nd Half 35.10% 71.30% 52.50% 73.80% 89.60% 84.10% 48.10% 69.10% 8.30%

Plate discipline wise Escobar remains really unchanged from the first half to the second. There is staggeringly little to no difference in every single category so it doesn't seem to be that he's changed his approach at the plate.

Pitchers are working Escobar down and away a bit more in the second half and cutting down on pitches up in the zone, but there isn't that much noticeable of a difference necessarily.

One interesting difference though is his batted ball type:

Escobar LD% GB% FB% BUH% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
1st Half 24.9% 44.1% 31.0% 14.3% 31.9% 37.9% 30.2% 20.1% 60.1% 19.8%
2nd Half 17% 52.7% 30.0% 20.0% 30.2% 38.2% 31.6% 21.3% 56.4% 22.2%
%Diff -7.6% 8.6% -1.0% 5.7% -1.7% 0.3% 1.4% 1.2% -3.7% 2.4%

Escobar has swapped line drives (usually good) for groundballs (usually not as good). He's also seen an uptick in bunts going for a hit on an overall percentage.

Meanwhile there's been a slight dip in his hit velocity, but his average batted ball velocity remains relatively unchanged half over half.

Escobar Velo
1st Half 83.3%
2nd Half 83.9%
%Diff 0.6%

The overall velo hasn't changed, but it looks like there is a slight dip in the middle of the data with a near 4% drop in medium hit balls.

I don't know. Doesn't really look like there are really more white-blue hued dots in the second half than the first, but the data does show there is a dip. However though one should note that quality of contact rate (hard, medium, soft) isn't based on exit velocity but hang time, trajectory, and landing spot.

The main culprit seems to be an 85 basis point drop in BABIP. We know how BABIP can kill or give life to a batting line, though it's not necessarily sticking out why the huge drop in BABIP really for Escobar this year. Maybe I'm missing something. I never said I was smart or good at detective work anyways...