by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It was a bit of a surprise when we learned that the Arizona Diamondbacks had resigned Eduardo Escobar for 3 years and $21 million. It wasn’t the size of the contract, as you would’ve thought that he could have commanded more on the open market (though last year’s slow developing market may have altered that thinking) after having a career year in 2018 splitting his time between Arizona and Minnesota:
566 At Bats
.272 Batting Average (154 Hits)
23 Home Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.334 On Base Percentage
.489 Slugging Percentage
.308 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Are those numbers for real? That’s just one of the questions, as we also have to wonder exactly where he’ll fit into the mix for the coming season. That’s something that we can’t answer today, as we’ll have to wait and see how Arizona handles it’s slew of arbitration eligible players (Jake Lamb, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed). Who returns and who leaves could help to dictate whether or not Escobar is used as a full-time player or in a super utility role.
Regardless, what we know is that Escobar deserves to get regular at bats at this point… Or does he? The truth is that there are some concerning underlying numbers that could ultimately hinder his production. It would appear that while the power has developed over the past two seasons, he also has started to take a home run-centric approach at the plate. Just look at these numbers:
- 1% fly ball rate (down slightly from 45.3% in ’17)
- 4% SwStr% (a career high)
- 3% O-Swing%
Escobar did keep the strikeout rate in check (20.0%), and he also showed improvements after his move to Arizona (9.3% SwStr%, 35.6% O-Swing% over 223 PA). That’s highly promising and helps to indicate that there may not be much of a change moving forward.
He also showed that he can hit the ball hard with a 38.2% Hard% (36.9% during his time in Arizona) with an ability to use the entire field (26.1% Oppo%). That helps to support his overall .308 BABIP and since he should maintain his strikeout rate there’s little reason to believe that his average is going to plummet.
Couple that with the believable advancement in his power (HR/FB of 12.8% and 11.9% over the past two seasons) and there’s obviously a lot to like. Regardless of Arizona’s offseason you would think that his versatility (he should enter the year with eligibility at 3B and SS, while he’s seen time at 2B and OF during his career) will keep him on the field more than enough, but it also wouldn’t be surprising to see them open up a full-time role.
The impact of the signing is going to be a storyline to follow early in the offseason, and while Escobar may not be an elite talent he brings value as a .275/20 type option (with the potential to produce even more than that).
Source – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections: