Alcides Escobar is the 9th rated fantasy shortstop as we head into the month of May.
Analysis: Alcides continues to be one of the most underrated fantasy options at shortstop. He’s currently batting .287 with 5 stolen bases, 13 runs scored and 10 runs batted in. The 5 stolen bases is 2nd among shortstops this season. Escobar’s isolated power is up this year- he ranks 7th among major league shortstops in extra base hits. His walk rate is up to 7.5% this year as opposed to his career mark of 4.4%. We are still in the early stages of the season but these are all very good signs.
Even in an off year Escobar still managed to finish in the top 20 among fantasy shortstops last season. He’s off to a fast start and we may see him outperform his 2012 season- .293 batting average, 35 stolen bases, 5 home runs, 68 runs. Regardless, he’s playing better than some of the bigger names out there like Derek Jeter, JJ Hardy, Asdrubal Cabrera and Everth Cabrera.
Alcides Escobar is available in 50-60% of fantasy leagues. Expect top 15 fantasy shortstop numbers going forward.
Alcides Escobar is struggling at the plate this year after posting a top seven fantasy year at shortstop in 2012.
Analysis: Alcides is only hitting .246 this year after hitting .293 in 2012. His career average sits at .263 so there is room for substantial improvement going forward. Escobar’s BABIP this year is down .025 points from his career average so we should expect his batting average to rise. Even with his batting average in the gutter and his stolen bases below expectation Alcides is still the 15th rated roto shortstop this year.
Escobar has averaged 30.5 stolen bases per season over the last two years, so the 12 he has thus far is a bit disappointing. The lack of steals is directly impacted by his lower batting average which equates to fewer stolen base opportunities. The steals will rise when his BABIP comes up around his career mark(which it should). Keep in mind that Kansas City is only five behind Detroit in the loss column in the AL Central so we may see a more aggressive KC team in the second half.
Alcides Escobar is available in 30-40% of fantasy leagues.
Alcides Escobar is falling out of favor in many leagues but he still has some solid fantasy value.
Analysis: Even though Alcides Escobar hit .254 last year, he did so with a very low BABIP of .285. This year his average is up to .288 where it should be and he still gets no love. Escobar stole twenty-six bases last year and is on pace for nearly thirty this year. He may not be a flashy offensive player but he puts up solid numbers for a shortstop.
Alcides Escobar is available in about half of fantasy leagues across the country and that number should maintain until fantasy owners catch on that his batting average is for real. He may not have hit for a high average the past two seasons in the bigs but he is a solid contact hitter. When his BABIP is respectable like it was in 2009 and his minor league career, he will hit for an average in the .280 range. He is currently the fifteenth ranked shortstop on ESPN’s player rater, ahead of guys like Jimmy Rollins, Alexei Ramirez and Jhonny Peralta. You could do a lot worse than Escobar who offers speed, a solid batting average and some RBI potential hitting deep in an underrated Royals batting order.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka comes over to MLB after a .346/.423/.482 triple slash line in 2010 with the Chiba Lotte Marines. He should play at second base for the Twins and much is expected from him from a fantasy standpoint.
Analysis: If you look at recent big names to come over from the NPB like Kosuke Fukudome or Akinori Iwamura, they both disappointed fantasy owners greatly. The reward isn’t worth the risk and there is a ton of risk involved with Nishioka. There is no possible way he’ll hit more than eight to ten homers especially in the new pitchers park known as Target Field. He’s also had health issues, never amassing more than 500 ABs in his NPB career with the expection of last year when he tallied 596 AB.
Projection: Give me Alcides Escobar every day of the week over Nishioka. At least with Escobar you’ll get him a few rounds later and he’ll come close to out producing Nishioka. It’s not hard to project slap hitting Japanese middle infielders anymore so expect a .280 AVG, 5 HR, 18-20 SB.