Alcides Escobar: 2012 Surprise

Alcides Escobar exceeded expectations in 2012 by hitting almost .300 and had 35 steals. In Zach Sander’s end of season SS rankings, Escobar ended up with the 10th highest rating. Going into 2013, he is primed to repeat 2012.

Escobar’s home power is pretty predictable. He really doesn’t have much. Here are some of his power values over the last 3 seasons:

Season: HR/FB, ISO, FB&HR Dist(ft)
2010: 3%, .091, 273ft
2011: 3%, .089, 251ft
2012: 4%, .098, 262ft

He showed some signs of power improvement from 2011 to 2012, but it doesn’t really matter. He is not a HR hitter and never will be in the future. Expect around 5 HRs from him a season.

While Escobar as little power, he was a great source of SB in 2012. He was 7th in the league with 35 SBs. Besides swiping 35 bases, he was only caught 5 times for a 88% success rate. Ned Yost is going to have the Royals stealing bases. There is a good chance Escobar will lead off for the entire season. I would set the floor for his SB at 30 with the chances of the number being as high as 50.

The one factor that will determine his value in 2013 will be his AVG. His AVG as been erratic since getting to the majors.

Season: AVG (PA)
2009: .304 (134)
2010: .235 (552)
2011: .254 (598)
2012: .293 (648)
Career: .266 (1936)

Most people saw the low AVGs from 2010 and 2011 and didn’t expect much in 2012. Since he walks so little, less than 5% of the time in his career, he is extremely susceptible to the BABIP gods. Throughout the years though, he has been able to maintain a relatively constant xBABIP near .330.

Season: BABIP, xBAPIP
2009: .346, .332
2010: .264, .317
2011: .285, .323
2012: .344, .354

His xBABIP gives us a clue that his AVG was suppressed in 2010 and 2011. Making some assumptions (600 PA, 5 HRs, 13.5% K% and 5% walk rate), here are his AVGs with a BABIP that varies from .310 to .360.

BABIP: AVG
.310: .279
.320: .288
.330: .296
.340: .305
.350: .314
.360: .323

Making the assumption that Escobar’s BABIP will be close to his career xBABIP, his AVG floor will be near .280. It will interesting to see where projections put his 2013 AVG. Some may weigh his 2012 season more than his career or vice versa. If his projected AVG is lower than .280, he will be a nice buy low candidate. If it is closer to .300, I would stay away.

For 2013, I would expect Alcides Escobar to have a .280 AVG, 5 HRs and 30 SB. He has good upside in AVG and SB with that prediction. It will be interesting to see how Escobar’s value get rated going forward. I could see him get a “one year wonder” or “break out” or “sleeper” or “bust” or any kind of label stuck to him. Just understand where his value lies and bid/draft accordingly.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


One Response to “Alcides Escobar: 2012 Surprise”

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  1. Bill Barson says:

    Really poor, vacuous article. You do some questionable math and make some generalizations and then issue a vague prediction at the extreme conservative side of what you’ve been saying all along. It’s a really challenging and interesting challenge to use statistics to predict the future of a young, developing, player like Escobar. Doing tricks with his career average XBabip doesn’t come close.

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