by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Prior to the season it likely would’ve been unanimous that Elvis Andrus was the better draft day selection than Alcides Escobar. Two and a half months in the season and it’s a different story. Just look at the lines (all stats are through Tuesday):
- Andrus – .268, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 42 R, 16 SB
- Escobar – .295, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 34 R, 18 SB
While Andrus has scored more runs, thanks to hitting towards the top of the lineup, Escobar has actually outproduced him in all other categories. The question is, what should we expect for the remainder of the season?
He has had a little bit of poor luck, with a .303 BABIP based off of a 22.2% line drive rate. He’s never going to be a source of power, but for his career he owns a 21.6% line drive rate and .315 BABIP. That should indicate an improvement in the average department, though not necessarily by much. A .274 career hitter, he pretty much is what he is at this point.
The bigger question comes in the runs and stolen base department. Andrus has notoriously seen a slide in the second half of season:
- 1st Half – 116 SB in 2,115 PA (SB every 18.2 PA)
- 2nd Half – 65 SB in 1,478 PA (SB every 22.7 PA)
It’s been a constant throughout his career, so it’s probably safe to expect a similar slide.
In regards to runs scored, even in a depleted lineup you would expect him to score. The team still has Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian Beltre, so seeing Andrus end up around 90 R (as he always does) should be expected.
Let’s not forget that he hit .293 back in 2012 and, while that number dropped to .234 he faced significant poor luck in 2013. Despite a 23.0% line drive rate he posted a .264 BABIP. This season? The marks are at 25.8% and .333. Couple that with a 12.8% strikeout rate and what’s not to like? There’s every reason to believe that he can maintain his current average, and there’s even room for further improvement.
He stole 35 bases two years ago and, as he’s getting on base more again this season, is on pace to surpass that. In that breakout 2012 campaign he actually stole more and more as the season progressed, with 22 coming in the second half.
The questions do come in for his runs scored, however. He’s generally hit eighth or ninth this season, which is going to limit him here (despite scoring recently). Unless he spends time towards the top of the order, which isn’t impossible, his limit is likely going to be in the 80 range overall.
Neither shortstop is going to be a major source of HR or RBI, and while Andrus does have more upside in runs scored that’s really his only advantage. Escobar has more potential in the average department and, given the track records, in SB as well.
This may have sounded crazy prior to the season, but at this point I’d much rather own Escobar for the remainder of 2014.
How about you?
Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports
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