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Yunel Escobar: Elite Shortstop

A little over a year ago, Alex Antholopolous traded an aging shortstop and two mid-level minor league prospects to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Yunel Escobar and Jo Jo Reyes. As the old adage goes, the team that gets the best player wins the deal. The Blue Jays received the best player.

Yunel Escobar is having a brilliant 2011 season. In the field and at the plate, Escobar has put it all together to finally end the seemingly endless shortstop carousel in Toronto.

In 100 games this season, Escobar has hit .305/.383/.445 with 10 HR, 18 2B and 3 3B. That is good for a wOBA of .365, and a wRC + of 131. These numbers are particularly special because they are combined with a plus glove at what is arguably the most difficult and important position on the diamond. At short, Escobar has a UZR of 2.6 (UZR/150 4.8) in 2011. This is comparable to the UZR/150 of 3.6 and 4.2 he had in 2009 and 10′, which shows that he is undoubtedly a solid defensive shortstop. Putting the bat and the glove together, Escobar has accumulated 4.1 WAR this season. That is the third best WAR amongst MLB shortstops, and the 19th best overall among position players!

Yunel Escobar may not be the 19th most valuable position player in baseball, but he should certainly be viewed as an elite player. At 28 years old Escobar has already accumulated 16.9 WAR with a career batting line of .292/.368/.404. Escobar’s combination of plate discipline, gap power, and solid defense make him an absolutely critical piece in the Jays path to contention.

Just wanted to make sure no one was missing out on what has been a superb season so far, and to give AA kudos for one of his most effective trades.

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Tags: Jo Jo Reyes Yunel Escobar

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