Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

Yunel Escobar was a guy I was high on coming into the  year. He thanked me with a .238-28-0-19-5 line prior to the All-Star Break. He stunk it up enough that the Braves dealt him  (an Jo-Jo Reyes) to Toronto for Alex Gonzalez, Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky.

 

Gonzalez was tearing it up for Toronto with a .259–47-17-50-1 line before the deal. His fantasy owners have to be singing the blues. Gonzalez is moving from Rogers Centre with the 8th highest HR factor to Turner Field, which checks in at 17. While I wouldn’t recommend dropping Alex Gonzalez, I would keep a close eye on his production following the trade.

 

One doesn’t have to look any further than last year’s Blue Jays SS Marco Scutaro to see what happens when you leave Toronto. His numbers are down across the board for Boston.

 

Escobar is 16 for 51 (.314) with 7 runs, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, and 1 SB in 14 career games against the Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees.

 

You should be able to get him for a reasonable price. He could aslo be on your waiver wire as he’s owned in 41 percent of ESPN and 72 percent of CBS leagues.

With Rafael Furcal and Yunel Escobar landing on the DL, there will be some fantasy owners in the market for a new fantasy shortstop. Here are some reasonably available options.

 

Yuniesky Betancourt, Kansas City Royals
The Royals are 23rd with 104 runs scored, but Betancourt has been decent. He’s hitting .278 with 10 runs, 2 HRs, and 8 RBIs. He’s owned in 14.7 percent of ESPN and 18 percent of CBS leagues.
***Update***
With Mike Aviles back in the mix, he’s probably a more attractive option.

 

Cliff Pennington, Oakland A’s
Oakland isn’t an offensive powerhouse either, but Pennington is hitting .272 with 10 runs, 3 HRs, 16 RBIs, and 4 SBs. He’s owned in 18.9 percent of ESPN and 46 percent of CBS leagues.

 

Cristian Guzman, Washington Nationals
Guzman qualifies at SS despite playing 2B for the Nats. He’s hitting .271 with 10 runs, 8 RBIs, and 1 SB. He’s owned in 6 percent of ESPN and 15 percent of CBS leagues.

 

Juan Uribe, San Francisco Giants
Uribe qualifies at 2B, 3B, and SS making him very valuable. He’s hitting .292 with 11 runs, 3 HRs, 16 RBIs, and 1 SB. He’s likely not available in ESPN leagues (74.2 percent ownership), but may be had in CBS leagues (48 percent).

 

Orlando Cabrera, Cincinnati Reds
Cabrera is the opposite of Uribe. He’s owned in 59 percent of CBS and 19.3 percent of ESPN leagues. He’s hitting .253 with 10 runs, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, and 3 SBs.

Yunel Escobar is somewhat overlooked because he doesn’t steal many bases, especially for a shortstop, and doesn’t stand out in any particular category. Click here to see where I have him ranked among fantasy shortstops.

While that is true, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a quality SS. He finished 7th in runs (89), 10th in hits (158), 9th in doubles (26), tied for 6th in HRs (14), 5th in RBIs (76), 6th in average (.299), and 5th in OPS (.812) among shortstops.

Yunel  has improved each year, and at 27 should continue to perform at a high level, though he will need to improve against lefties. He hit just .232 against them last year. He was rather consistent  though, hitting .293 with 41 runs, 7 HRs, and 44 RBIs in 283 ABs before the All-Star Game, and .306 with 48 runs, 7 HRs, and 32 RBIs in 245 ABs afterwards.

Escobar struck out just 62 times in 528 ABs last year for a MLB best 0.92 BB/K ratio among shortstops. He puts the ball in play, which gives him an opportunity to accumulate fantasy stats for you.

If you don’t get a top six shortstop (Hanley, Tulo, Jeter, Reyes, Rollins, Andrus), you’re better served to address other needs for a few rounds. Then go ahead and grab a SS from the next tier. While others are taking Stephen Drew, Jason Bartlett, Rafael Furcal, and the like, I’ll take Escobar, and enjoy his across-the-board contributions.

Predictions:  .295, 95 runs, 17 HRs, 78 RBIs, 5 SBs

Past profiles:
Arizona Diamondbacks:
Brandon Webb


Image courtesy of Icon SMI


Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties