For three years fantasy owners had been praying for Alcides Escobar to contribute somewhere (anywhere!) to justify rostering him and his potential. In 2011 we saw Escobar start to scratch the surface of his fantasy value, stealing 26 bases and scoring 69 runs while not doing much of anything else. Last year Escobar sneaked (because “snuck” isn’t a word, folks!) inside the top 100, finishing at 58th overall on the strength of 35 steals and a .293 average.
While Escobar’s stats have shown annual improvement at a perennially shallow position, it’s probably a good idea to pump the brakes a tad. Last year his strikeout rate jumped to 15.4% after sitting at 12.7% and 12.2% in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and he’s one of the worst on-base guys in baseball due to some terrible sub-5.0% walk rates. If there is a positive to be gleaned from Escobar’s 2012 performance, it’s his line drive rate, which peaked at 23.0% last year, a new career high.
With his speed and line drive/ground ball tendency, it’s possible that Escobar could replicate his .344 BABIP, but in 2010 he also posted a solid line drive rate (21.5%) and managed just a .264 BABIP. Maybe his true projection lies somewhere in the middle, and that could mean a batting average correction is in order.
At a Glance
Strengths: SB, net SB
Neutral: R, BA
Weaknesses: HR, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS
Best-case scenario: Elvis Andrus (TEX)
Likely scenario: Jose Altuve (HOU), Ben Revere (PHI), Coco Crisp (OAK)
Worst-case scenario: Cameron Maybin (SD)
Alcides Escobar 2013 Fantasy Projection
The speed is legitimate, and that’s what you’re probably drafting Escobar for in the first place. While I don’t think the batting average will stick in the .290s and I expect him to have an OBP no better than .315, Escobar should still set a new career high in runs scored due to a favorable spot batting second for the Royals.
Last year Escobar spent half his time batting second for the Royals and the other half mostly at the bottom of the lineup. In his time batting second, Escobar averaged 70 runs scored per 150 games with a .303 OBP, so I like our projected 77 runs.
As far as the average goes, Escobar batted .259 on ground balls in 2012 versus the league average of .234. It shouldn’t be surprising that a speedy player would outperform the league average mark there, but even including last year’s high .259 mark Escobar is still just a .249 batters on grounders. If there’s anywhere that he could regress this year causing him to return to his usual batting average ways, it’s here.
But lots of steals and a solid amount of runs will be enough to land Escobar around the top 100, but if he can’t steal 30+ bases he probably isn’t worth owning. And in OBP leagues you need to let someone else draft him unless he falls pretty far. Interestingly, Escobar’s current ADP on MockDraftCentral.com is 205.5, which makes him a nice shortstop and steals target in deeper, non-OBP leagues.