March 6, 2011; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar (5) looks on before an at bat during the bottom of the fifth inning of a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Blue Jays Place 3rd in FanGraphs SS Power Rankings

Remember when shortstop was a black hole in the Blue Jays’ lineup? When the only constant was inconsistency and a revolving door of washed ups and stop gaps? It seems like a distant nightmare now.

This week, FanGraphs started posting their “Positional Power Rankings.” So far, the Jays have ranked 21st at catcher, 20th at first, 16th at second and 3rd at short.

Here’s what Bradley Woodrum wrote about the Jays’ shortstop options:

“Escobar has really developed into one of the league’s best hitting-shortstops. In fact, I find it surprising ZiPS has predicted a line beneath his career average… It’s mysterious… The Blue Jays will presumably attempt to maximize Omar Vizquel’s playing time while minimizing his plate appearances, so they might be able to get some 60+ games out of just 50 or so PAs. Meanwhile, Luis Valbuena is out of minor league options, so I suspect Toronto will find a way to keep him on the roster and give him a super utility / backup SS role — what with his crushing of Triple-A pitching and ability to play the whole infield plus left field.”

The post also lists the ZIPS projections for Escobar:

.272/.351/.393 WAR 4.5

I will concur with Woodrum’s assertion that ZIPS is too low on Escobar’s offensive production for 2012, particularly his slugging percentage (career: .401, 2011: .413), which often increases as a player enters his late 20s/early 30s. Either way, though, it sure is nice to have stability at short, and stability that could produce 4+ WAR each season through 2015.

In case you’re wondering, first place went to the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzski, with the runner up finisher being Jose Reyes of the Marlins.

How is Alex Gonzalez doing these days by the way?

-SB

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Tags: Yunel Escobar

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