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Entries in Alcides Escobar (2)


Do As I Say, Not as Yuni Does

He's Baaack! Yuniesky Betancourt, who spent part of the 2009 season and 2010 with the Royals, has returned to K.C. Betancourt was the club's starting shortstop back then and filled that role with the Brewers last year, but he's (mercifully) expected to fill a utility infielder role in 2012.

If I were Royals batting coach Kevin Seitzer, I'd be telling Betancourt's replacement at shortstop, Alcides Escobar, not to take any batting tips from his new teammate. Yuni and Alcides both have an affinity for chasing anything from the nose to the toes.

Betancourt chased 37% of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone in 2011, way above the 28% league average. Yuni's chase rate was 15th-highest in the majors, and placed behind just Alex Gonzalez and Erick Aybar among shortstops. Check out Betancourt's swing rate by pitch location, compared to the league average. While he rarely sees a pitch he doesn't like, Yuni just can't resist inside pitches:

Betancourt's swing rate by pitch location, 2011

Average swing rate by pitch location, 2011

Unfortunately, Escobar's plate discipline resembled that of the man he replaced. He swung at 34% of outside pitches in 2011, the 28th-highest mark in the majors and fifth among shortstops. Like Yuni, he loves him some inside pitches:

Escobar's swing rate by pitch location, 2011

Thankfully for the Royals, the 25-year-old Escobar (+5.9 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games at shortstop) couldn't be more different than Betancourt (-8.1 UZR/150) in the field. But at the plate, both Escobar (.271 Weighted On-Base Average) and Betancourt (.286 wOBA) fell woefully short of the modest positional standard (.305) while hacking. If Escobar is going to tighten his strike zone, Seitzer should keep these two at opposite ends of the bench.


Royals' Escobar Making Contact

Buster Olney reports that the Kansas City Royals are pleased with what they've seen in Alcides Escobar so far this spring.  In addition to his good fielding, GM Dayton Moore likes his approach at the plate: "He hasn't swung and missed much at all, and he's made hard contact."  The Royals are hoping he will develop into a #2 hitter in their lineup.

In his short career, Escobar does have a decent contact rate of 83.8%, putting him in the 74th percentile since 2008.  Against fastballs, he has an even more impressive 88.9% contact rate;  however, this comes with a .243 batting average and .351 slugging percentage. 

Escobar put up an OPS of .797 and .762 in his final two minor league seasons (2008, 2009).  At age 24, he could still develop into a decent hitter, but his major league numbers so far have been less than impressive.  This season might tell us a lot about what type of player he could become.