Making the Grade: Ranking Shortstops in the AL Central

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No. 4: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals

Mar 11, 2015; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals shortstop

Alcides Escobar

(2) warms up prior to a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Alcides Escobar has had an up-and-down career with both the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers. 

Breaking into the league for an extended stay in 2009, Escobar hit .304 with five extra-base hits in 38 big league games. He followed up that performance, though, with a .235 average in his first full major league season. Escobar put together a breakout campaign in 2012, his second season with the Royals, as he hit .293/.331/.390 with 42 extra-base hits and 35 stolen bases.

Again, he followed up that promising campaign with a pedestrian .234 season at the dish.

He rebounded well in 2014, batting .285 while playing in all 162 games for the Royals. He hit 42 extra-base hits, stole 31 bases and tallied a career-high 74 runs scored.  His first postseason appearance, then, ended with a .292/.303/.415 mark as he helped the Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985.

Given that trend, the 28-year-old shortstop is due for another dip in production this season.

He will be hitting full-time out of the leadoff spot — though David Hill of KingsofKauffman.com disagrees with the strategy — for the first time in his career, as most of his time has been spent in the bottom third of the lineup. Manager Ned Yost turned to Escobar to fill the role last season in the midst of the team’s playoff run more out of necessity, but Escobar doesn’t fit the typical bill of an everyday leadoff hitter. While he has stolen 114 bases over the last four seasons, he posted a below average .317 on base percentage last season. He swings at a lot of first pitches and doesn’t walk nearly as much as one would expect.

But Yost trusts his durable shortstop and will rely on him – at least for the time being – to set the table for the young boppers behind him. It proved to be a brilliant strategy during the playoffs, but whether that plan is successful for an entire season remains to be seen.

Next: No. 3

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