Betting on Alcides Escobar pays off


When the Washington Nationals acquired Alcides Escobar In July, in exchange for cash from the Kansas City Royals, the franchise likely had no idea what impact it would have and the potential for it in the District of Columbia next year.

Traded to the Nationals the day after Treasure turner jammed his finger, Escobar was supposed to be a side note to a fighting Washington team. After all, the move was also in stories of its arrival dismissed as “not a major trade”. However, when Turner was shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers at close of trade, the role and value of Escobar exploded.

Escobar suddenly went from a stopgap to a savior on the shortstop.

This is how Alcides Escobar proved his worth at the Washington Nationals

Before Tuesday’s game against the Colorado Rockies in Denver, 34-year-old Escobar had scored in 12 of his last 13 games. During this stretch he averaged .355 (22-for-62) with five doubles, one home run, nine RBI, three walks, one stolen base, and nine runs scored. Before Escobar got to Mile High City, Escobar had his 10-game hit streak in the series finale against the Cincinnati Reds. It was his second double-digit hitting streak since August 17th.

How valuable was Escobar to the Washington Nationals? Since joining the team on July 3, Escobar has occupied first place in the team in doubles (19), second in hits (86) and second in batting average with runners in goal position (RISP, .387).

And these numbers aren’t just good by Washington standards. Those 86 hits are sixth in the National League over the same period, while his 19 doubles are fifth and his average of 0.387 with RISP is sixth.

Perhaps even more impressive is that Escobar came up with these numbers after retiring from Major League Baseball in 2018. He played 96 triple-A games in 2019 and spent time with the Yakult Swallows last season before landing back with the Royals on a minor league deal last May. He hit .274 in 124 at-bats for Triple-A Omaha when traded in Washington.

Escobar will be a free agent at the end of the season but will likely be pursued by Washington to return, both for his presence in the clubhouse and for what he showed the Nationals on the field. His 1.6 bWAR is third in the team behind Juan Soto (7.2) and Josh Bell (3.1), and it set the tone in a disappointing season in the country’s capital.

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