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2010-player-preview-yunel-escobar | April | 2010 Articles

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2010 Player Preview: Yunel Escobar

Written by Joe Lucia on .

I will refrain using the phrase "fiery Cuban" in this preview. Most Braves fans absolutely adore Yunel Escobar. He's got tremendous passion for the game, and is one hell of a player too. Escobar is lauded by most broadcasters for his "tremendous" defense, when in reality, he's almost exactly average. Cue fans complaining to me about how defensive metrics are flawed. Escobar's primary value for the Braves lies in his offense though. Last season, he posted a .812 OPS, which placed him third among qualified National Leaguers (the two guys ahead of him were Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki. They're kinda good at baseball). What has been impressing me lately with Escobar is the fact that his strikeout rate has declined each of his 3 years in the majors, down to 11.7% last year, a fantastic rate. He's continued that trend this spring, only striking out 4 times in 48 at bats. He doesn't walk a whole lot, posting a rate of 9.4% last year, but when you compare that with his strikeout rate, its more than doable. Last season was also another point of maturation for Escobar, as his ISO increased up to .136, a career best. If Escobar is looking to become truly part of the top tier of shortstops in the NL however, he'll need to boost that mark a little bit more, maybe to the level of around .150 or so. Something does concern me about Escobar though, and that is his health. In his 2 years as a regular, he's played in 136 and 141 games respectively. Ideally, he'd be able to get into a minimum of 150 games per season. Doing that would allow him to increase his value to the team even more, and likely become even more of an impact in the NL East race. Despite my criticisms of Escobar, he's a fantastic player that the Braves need to be effective this season. He'll have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs, likely hitting in the 6th spot in the order behind Brian McCann and probably ahead of Jason Heyward. Its perfectly acceptable to expect 90 runs, 80 RBI, and a .300 average from him this year. He's a player that is definitely able to be a producer for your fantasy team at SS this year, but he's not even being picked in the first 10 rounds! You can definitely be able to find him in the later rounds, and unless you can get one of the top tier shortstops early, he's a great pick to help your team.
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