Yunel Escobar

Nice rookie season. When Escobar first came up, he hit for a high average but with little secondary offense, limiting his value. As the season went on and he played more, he started adding some walks and a few homers, and by the end of the year he had a good, batting-average-based but all-around offensive game, .326/.385/.451. Though the Braves played poorly when Renteria was out, it wasn’t Escobar’s fault, as he played some of his best baseball during that stretch.

Doesn’t, however, seem to have an obvious offensive role, though with this team’s makeup he’ll probably hit first or second. Doesn’t have middle-of-the-order power, wasn’t a really successful basestealer (5 of 8 ) and really doesn’t seem like a leadoff type, though if he can hit .326 his OBP will be more than high enough. He was the hardest player on the team to strike out, or close to it.

Range factor as a shortstop was poor, but higher than Renteria’s. Way below average as a second baseman; a little above average at third. However, his fielding percentage was best as a shortstop.

Yunel Escobar Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

52 thoughts on “Yunel Escobar”

  1. I am relieved to see a new netry and we can all now agree & talk about Yunel.

    The vitriol spewing at Kotsay before he’s even taken his first S.T. hack was a bit much and I will just take a wait n see attitude. I am just not convinced he’s going to completely suck. This isn’t a Mark Redman situation to me. He could be decent and batting 7th or 8th.

    Andruw wasn’t even remotely decent last year so if we get decent, that’s an upgrade.

    Escobar:

    Great surprise and he showed the kind of mindset at the plate that makes me think he could be in for an even bigger 2nd year.

    I will be interested to see if he can add a little power.

  2. I’m pretty sure that Escobar is not a .326 hitter. What I’m not sure of is really how good he is. He is still a heck of a player if all we get is his minor league career averages.
    I think that if he struggles for any sustained length of time we may see Lillibridge take his place. Lillibridge seems to have a more rounded offensive skill set and from what I’ve been reading he is a plus defender. Having 2 plus prospects at short stop is a nice problem for the Braves.

  3. Murphy:

    After reading that article, it only reminds many of us why we idolized Murph in the 80’s – especially someone like me at age 32, Murph was my childhood idol.

    Based on his numbers, I understand (albeit disagree, mainly because of my bias towards Muprh) why he hasn’t made the Hall, just based on raw statistics.

    However, if you look at Dale’s life, the foundations, the charities, the way he treats people, the humility, the soft spoken-ness and all the good he has done – Murph would be a GREAT Abassador for the Hall and a shining example of playing the game the right way.

    Perhaps they should consider putting in Murphy under a special category like an all time humantarian member of the sport. Their should be some way to honor a guy who truly is in a class by himself when it comes to dignity and class.

  4. I am on the same dead horse. I don’t say this is not as bad as Redman.

    When the Braves picked up Redman (no talent lost, not as much money as Kotsay) they were looking for 6 plus innings every 5 days at 5 or better ERA.

    When they picked up Kotsay (by giving up talent) they have basically said they need him to be above average in centerfield, play 1000 innings, and bat 90 ops+.

    Which of those scenarios looking at them on the front end was more likely. I submit Redman’s was more likely.

    1. Kotsay may continue to have back problems and not play much.

    2. IF he plays his decline has been huge and USUALLY players don’t come back from that.

    3. IF he plays his defense may be limited by the same age and injury problems.

    As to “we don’t know what to expect from Devine”: He is AT LEAST a 4th righthander out of the bullpen for the next 6 years cost controlled. That is more value than Kotsay as he is.

    Why couldn’t Wrent give Kotsay 2 weeks of spring training games to evaluate and then decide?

  5. Oh, and yesterday somebody asked who was the last position player Braves picked off the scrap heap that did anything. I would submit it was Ozzie Guillen. He had been outright released, yet his first part season in Atlanta was pretty good nd may have saved our behinds on “the steak”.

    The next year Ozzie went back to putrid.

  6. Trivia time (reposted):

    Who led the AL in HR and XBH during the decade of the ’80s? (If you look up the answer, try to hold off posting)

  7. I haven’t looked it up, but I’ll hazard a guess…Cal Ripken, Jr.

    I am quietly optimistic that Escobar will develop into a solid number 2 hitter. He seems to have line drive power that should lead to a lot of doubles, with a few triples and homers thrown in. His defense will probably be a bit better than Renteria’s, but Edgar’s value was more in his leadership. (I think if Renteria had not been injured mid-summer, the Braves would have won the Wild Card, if not the division).

  8. Harold Baines?

    I have to admit I was skeptical of Yunel when he first came up, and was furious that he kept taking playing time away from KJ. I still have doubts about his chances for long term success, but will be more than happy if he produces above league average numbers from short this year.

  9. Cliff–go on and beat that dead horse–I am not ready to move on either.

    I will like the Kotsay trade if Wrenn uses the money saved (say as opposed to signing Cameron or Patterson) as part of a deal to bring in another quality starter (Bedard–please!).

    Otherwise, lets hope Kotsay has a career year….

  10. Back to the trade: what bothers me isn’t so much the trade itself, although I don’t like trading young pitchers with potential for guys like Kotsay, but the reason they included Devine. It was simply to save money. So, the standard now is, trade your prospects if you can save a little money. So much for the millions of dollars to spend. They better be saving their pennies to resign Teixera; otherwise it looks like Liberty is no better than TW.

    But this is also Bobby Cox’s kind of trade; a veteran who used to be good. I’m sure Kotsay has good baseball “face”, has good “makeup” and will be a strong leader (not to mention his wife is hot.) It’s a typical Braves kind of trade, really.

    The trade itself might work out. given how badly the Braves have done in drafting and developing young pitchers, we might never hear about Devine again. It is is a kind of go for it now move. Even though most people here don’t think much of Kotsay, it’s obvious they think he can fill a need this year and avoid having to bring Schaeffer up. It just depresses me that this team is so cheap that they would trade a prospect to save a couple of million. They want fans to think they have money to spend but their actions don’t support that.

  11. Nope, and nope.

    Having been looking forward to the Lillibridge era, I was surprised by Yunel’s success last year. Now it’s a quandary — I like Escobar, but I sort of hope he does well just so we can trade him. Because of all the defensive skills at all positions on the diamond, range at shortstop is the most important. I think Escobar can play the position, but it sounds like Lillibridge may actually save us more runs. And because the one “plus” offensive talent that Yunel has shown (high BA) is the most volatile, I’m still skeptical.

  12. Alex, Amen on Murph. Not to parrot Joe Posnanski here, but remember, they couldn’t even find a place in the Hall for Buck O’Neil. After he died, I think they realized how shameful that is, and so they didn’t just induct him, they decided to name an award after him.

    Maybe the Braves should create a Dale Murphy Award for good citizenship — sort of a team version of the Clemente Award. Give it to someone who’s a leader on and off the field. Smoltz could be the first recipient. More than just inducting Murphy into the Hall, this might be a better way to honor the example he said for how to be a baseball player and a role model at the same time.

  13. AAR-

    I was blanking on Buck O’Neill’s name for some reason, but that’s who I was trying to think of earlier.

    Here’s the what they should do in the Hall – create the “Buck O’neill Citizenship Wing” and induct good to great players who were also great citizens – like Murph. I don’t see why they can’t have a special wing to honor people like Buck & Murph?

    I remembered how sickened I was while Buck was alive that they didn’t put him in. I think it was about 2 years ago, where Olbermann was doing his usual hour on the now defunct “Dan Patrick Radio Show” and Olbermann went NUTS when they excluded the THEN still alive Buck O’Neill from the Hall.

    I ignore most of Olbermann’s rants on his MSNBC show, but on that day, I was completely with him about the absolute shamefulness of leaving Buck O’Neill out of the hall. Even if you want to argue Buck’s numbers, he was such an amazing Ambassador for Baseball for about 70+ years, he should have made it when he was alive.

  14. I don’t think Escobar will hit .326 again either.

    I do think that he can hit close to .300 and I think his secondary skills and power are developing. That’s fine for a SS.

  15. Amen on #14 AAR….

    I’m fine with Escobar at short if he can produce his Minor League numbers. I know his offense is less flashy than Renteria, but I think with a full season of Tex, Escobar’s production will be less important. His defense seems fine, no worse than what we had last year.

    On the Kotsay trade, I’m on the fence, only because of what we had to give up. I’m not sure, as several of you have said before, that Devine would every have Bobby’s confidence. Still, I think Devine is worth more than what we got. Living here in FL, I got to watch alot of Kotsay when he was younger, he plays hard, he plays good defense, and he’s no slouch at the plate. If he’s healthy, he’s a better alternative than the internal options we had.

    One last thing, I’m 33, and Murphy WAS the Braves when I was groing up. I still have the “Power Alley” poster with him holding a light-saber for a bat…anyone else?

  16. Does anybody know why we had to draft Escobar? I thought all Cuban (or Latin Americans for that matter)players came in through FA.

  17. Escobar’s actually our highest remaining pick from the 2005 draft, now that Beau Jones and now Joey Devine have been shipped off to the AL West.

  18. I’m 29 and Dale Murphy (and the Braves being on TV everyday… I’m still mad about the TBS deal) was baseball for me.

    Alex R., like the post. I still think he should get in based on being one of the best players of his era.

    I’m still not sold on Escobar, and I’m kinda worried about turning SS over to him. But, I’m definitely hoping he can hit around .300 and make the plays in the field.

  19. I think you are getting into a slippery slope if you start setting up criteria for Hall membership based on being a good citizen and so forth. I’m all for recognizing people that contributed to baseball in ways other than being great players, but I don’t think you should confuse greatness on the field with being good guys. If you are going to induct someone as a player, their character off the field shouldn’t matter. Dale Murphy was undoubtedly a better man than Babe Ruth–and certainly Ty Cobb–but that doesn’t mean he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

    Now, it’s obviously different if the person made a contribution beyond playing. Branch Rickey clearly deserves to be in for a number of obvious reasons. Despite all the outrage over Buck O’Neill being excluded while he was alive, what did he really do to merit inclusion? He was a nice man that suffered discrimination, was a coach for a long time, told great stories and was featured in Ken Burns’ series on baseball. Pace Keith Olbermann, who is great at displaying outrage, I’m not sure what Buck did to actually merit inclusion. There were obviously great Negro League players that deserved to be in the Hall, but I’m not sure Buck O’Neill was one of them.

  20. I don’t know much about the Negro leagues, but from what I can tell there were several less deserving people put in as part of the mass induction a couple years ago. I thought that the whole idea of that mass induction was stupid, though.

    There is a citizenship clause in the Hall of Fame charter.

  21. Sansho,

    I haven[‘t seen the answer,

    Was our AL slugger, Joe Carter? I know ther was a 12 year period in which he led MLB in homers and rbi’s.

  22. #26

    Marc-

    And that’s exactly why I am suggesting a ‘separate’ wing for players like Murph & Buck O’neill if there are enough voters who think their RAW stats are too borderline.

    Sure, I don’t think any player just being a really fantastic human being should be in any spot in the Hall.

    If Keith Lockhart ran into a burning building and rescued 200 orphans, I wouldn’t put him in any section of the Hall, because he stunk.

    Dale Murphy and Buck O’Neill were guys that had really good to great statistics – and both happen to be two of the best human beings who have ever playedd sports. There has to be a way for the Hall to honor guys like this. And naming a new, special wing after a legend like O’neill, would also pay hommage to the old Negro Leagues as well. It would be a great and positive thing.

    I know that one day I will hopefully have the privilege to bring little “Jake R.” to Cooperstown the way my parents once took me back in 1989. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he takes in all the wonderment & history.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to walk Jake over to a special section where great players who were/are amazing human beings – like Buck and Murph – are honored. What an amazing message to give to a child.

    I will say that character (unless someone is a murderer) shouldn’t necessarily keep someone out of the Hall. Ty Cobb was a dispicable individual – but he should be in the Hall for hsi on the field play. But if you have guys like Cobb, balance it out with guys like Murph & Buck.

  23. So far, I really like Yunel. From what I’ve seen, he’s a tough out & he doesn’t melt in the spotlight. Late-inning hits that help win games always earn my appreciation.

    I think he’ll be better than OK at short, but I really do need to see him play an entire season there.

    Can we bat KJ-Yunel 1 & 2, and hit Kotsay 8th?

    Alex,
    FWIW, Keith Olbermann is a card-carrying member of SABR.

  24. If Keith Lockhart ran into a burning building and saved 200 orphans, I’d cheer for the man.

    Boy, it’s a sign of how much Braves fans hate the man that that’s what it would take, huh?

  25. AAR,

    Yes – it would take that and I would still have to think about.

    As far as I am concerned, Lockhart will always remain the worst Brave of all time in my book, because unlike even say Reitsma or Mark Redman, their times with the Braves were shorter.

    Lockhart was with the Braves for 5 or 6 years, but it SEEMED like 10 or 11. I literally think watching too many years of Lockhart in a Braves uniform is why I have some gray hair now.

  26. I think Diaz would have a propensity to hit into too many DPs to hit second. Most of his hits are on the ground.

  27. Diaz’s double play rates aren’t especially high, 17 over the past two years (essentially a season-plus of ABs). I don’t know how often he’s hit in double play situations, though. He’s righthanded, isn’t really fast, and has a weird batting stance, all of which would argue that he should be GIDP-prone.

  28. I am not as down on the Kotsay trade as most of you. Devine is not a top prospect (anymore). He might turn out to become a good reliever but might as well not. The Kotsay gamble is not too high in my view. The price for him is low and we just don’t seem to have a better option at the moment. I am all for giving Schaefer et al more time to develop properly in the Minors. We have seen too many bad examples of rushing prospects in the past years in Atlanta, I think.

    Yunel, I like. I like what I’ve seen. He should be fine.

  29. Between KJ, Diaz, Esco & (dare I say) Kotsay, we seem to have a lotta “#2 hitters” on this team.

    I’d bat Diaz 7th. He strikes out more than Escobar & walks less (yes, that’s possible).

    I mean, Diaz never walks.

  30. I think the Kotsay trade is an indication that the Braves see 2008 as a (maybe last chance) year to win with Smoltz and Glavine (and to a much lesser extent Hampton). They are at an age where their skills can be expected to erode.
    Take those two 40 plussers out of the rotation and you have one real long season.
    Therefore the willingness to give up a piece of the future on a risky starter in CF.
    It could work out. Hope so.

  31. 40 — I could see that point of view if the potential reward with kotsay were higher. he seems to be much more of a veteran stopgap than a win-now piece.

    i’m down on the kotsay deal, but hopefully we’ll all be surprised.

  32. I loved it that Yunel took an extra base (twice, IIRC) when the opposing pitchers and defense weren’t paying attention. If he’s always looking to do that (and doesn’t get caught; that could be truly embarasssing), he could probably pull it off often enough to wreak psychological havoc on the opposing team.

    People talk about the effect that speed on the bases has on a pitcher, but what if the entire infield has to constantly watch a runner, even between pitches? It seems it could cause them to make other mental mistakes.

    Anyway, it’s a bit of an odd case because I’ve never seen another player attempt such a move. It was just fun to see a rookie come up and pull what seemed like a sandlot trick against major league teams.

  33. Mac –
    I agree the numbers don’t currently prove that. But if I’m not wrong, his BABIP is also abnormally high. If that were to come back down to a normal level, you could probably see an increase in the DPs.

  34. @40
    that’s just it, the braves didn’t view devine as a piece of the future, but as damaged goods.
    While i hated to see Renty traded away, i think Yunel will do fine. i’m far more concerned with the “platoon” positions and our starting rotation.

  35. @43: That was a great play Yunel pulled against Arizona; unfortunately, the Braves ended up losing anyway. I do think speed can force the pitcher and defense into mistakes. Actually, when Furcal first came up, he used to disrupt infields with his bunting and speed. After that, he decided there was more money to be made hitting 12 home runs a year than bunting.

  36. Mac,

    I think the attendance will be fine.

    Cheap, nearbye Baseball featuring guys who maybe in Atlanta soon or were just there.

    It’s a bit of a shocker that they are leaving Richmond. I could kick myself for not taking advantage of going while they were still 2 hours from DC.

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