The Kansas City Royals would have never won a World Championship in 2015 without the play of Alcides Escobar.
Escobar has been the Royals’ starting shortstop since 2010, coming over in the historic Zack Greinke trade along with Lorenzo Cain, a deal that forever shaped the future of the team.
Escobar has provided the Royals with slick fielding and clutch hitting with at least 50 RBIs in five of the last six years.
He also has the longest ironman streak in baseball as he has played every game for each of the last 3 years.
And that’s the rub.
Escobar is going to again be a free agent after this season, just as he was last year. There was no interest in him then, so he re-signed with the Royals.
It has proven to be a mistake. The bottom has fallen out for Esky, who is hitting .193 and has an on-base percentage of .243. Yet he continues to start every day, perhaps a thanks for all the great years he’s given the team. However, it’s not like he’s going to overtake Cal Ripken’s record for consecutive games played.
The time has come for Escobar to take a seat. Manager Ned Yost needs to look at the players who will be with the club next year for evaluation purposes. Escobar is giving the team next-to-nothing with just 18 RBIs in 300 at-bats. For whatever reason, he tries to hit home runs despite his willowy frame and has never topped more than 7 in a season. He has all of 15 extra-base hits this season. He used to be a base-stealing threat, having pilfered 31 bags in the 2014 World Series season and had 17 in the two following years. But he had only 4 last year and just 3 this year, but of course you have to get on base to have attempts.
Aldaberto Mondesi is going to be the Royals’ shortstop next season. He’s been touted as the team’s top minor league prospect for quite some time and has put up good numbers, but they haven’t translated to the major league level. Mondesi may prove to be Escobar 2.0 as his numbers are similar, though he might have a bit more pop in his bat.
Speaking of hanging on to players past their prime, I noticed last night that Alex Gordon has 5 homers and 15 RBIs. It seemed to me that the 15 RBI number has not changed for a while so I looked up the stats. Gordon has not driven in a run since June 9. He has only four extra-base hits since June 10. This is a guy who is in the midst of a 4-year, $72 million deal.
You really have to feel for Gordon. It’s not like he’s not trying, he gives it his all every time he steps on the field. But his skills have eroded so badly that it’s almost painful to watch, yet Yost sends him out there every day for loyalty reasons and the fact that who else are you going to put out there?
I find it sad that Escobar and Gordon have tailed off to the point they’re fringe major leaguers. They brought so much joy and happiness to Kansas City that you wanted to see them go out in style.