I was hoping the Twins would do something at the trade deadline, and they did. I was hoping they'd get bullpen help, and they did. So I suppose I'm happy with what they did. They couldn't really have done much more without gutting the future, and considering their performance since the trade deadline it looks like an every better decision to mostly stand pat. I was hoping they'd find a way to upgrade shortstop, but the two instant starters who may have been available are both expensive and have question marks (Jose Reyes and Starlin Castro) so whatevs. With Danny Santana back in the minors, it looks like Eduardo Escobar is the new shortstop, and may be for a while considering there's no readily available replacement unless Santana turns it around. So is Eduardo Escobar, like, good?
Current slash line: .239/.270/.380. Yikes. Down considerably from last year's decent .275/.315/.406. His OPS of .651 ranks him 19th in the majors among shortstops with at least 250 plate appearances - better than I would have guessed (and better than Castro). Considering Santana ranked dead last, that's manageable. Both his walk and strikeout rates are career worsts this year, and this approach change probably also accounts for his dip in BABIP from a career number .308 to .294 (it was .336 last year) and his line drive rate has plummeted from 24% to 17.8%. Both numbers are considerably worse than his career numbers, so we can hope he's just having a bad year.
One thing I've always liked about his bat is he's got some pop compared to your average shortstop. He ranks 8th in ISO (slg-avg) among shortstops with 250+ PAs, and that number has increased each of the last two years. He's also 16th in extra base hits, despite having a hundred plate appearances fewer than almost every shortstop ahead of him. Overall, he's a complete free swinger who refuses to walk and has a little bit of pop for his position. He's only 26, so his bat probably gets a passing grade, though it would be nice if he could revert back to last year's version.
He's a horrendous base stealer. He's gone 6 for 12 in his career and 2 for 5 this year, and it's probably best for everyone at this point if he just stops doing it. Though that would probably give Dan Gladden a heart attack. Seriously you ever listen to this guy on the radio? He's completely obsessed with the running game. It's maddening. Speaking of, Escobar is a pretty good base runner outside of not being able to steal base if a small child was catching. Well, actually this year he rates dead average, but last year he was slightly goodish. This is according to UBR at Fangraphs which takes note of such things as going from 1st to 3rd on a single or scoring from 1st on a double and stuff like that. Makes sense. Yet another regression from Escobar.
Last season, Escobar's fielding (at shortstop) was above average according to Ultimate Zone Rating. This year, however, like everything else it's plummeted to terrible. Granted defensive metrics aren't perfect, but considering he's on pace to make about 40% more errors than last season I can buy it. This year his UZR ranks 36th out of 40 shortstops with at least 210 innings played at SS (just ahead of Danny Santana). Last year he ranked 14th.
So what do we have? A player who would have been a competent starter last season who has been pretty rough this year. Add it all up and he's gone from 2.5 WAR last year down to -0.7 this year. Considering Santana is -1.2 he's an upgrade, but a disappointment at the same time. Last year WAR put him as the #14 shortstop in the majors. This year he's at the bottom, ahead of only Santana and Castro. Yuck.
Considering he's 26 years old and under team control through 2018 there's considerable reason for the Twins to hope he can be the new shortstop of the future. Not to mention the free agent market for shortstops is garbage. Last year he looked like he had a chance. This year, however? No, he's not good. Hopefully they don't rush Jorge Polanco.