The Season That Was: Yunel Escobar

We are, slowly, taking a closer look at each Jays' season. Today it is Yunel's turn. Baustista was here.

Somehow, Alex Anthopoulos was able to pick up Yunel Escobar for the baseball equivalent of some shiny beads, in the middle of the 2010 season. Yunel was having a down year and he wasn't a favorite of Braves' manager Bobby Cox, some of his teammates and Braves fans, for reasons that, after watching him play a bit, I don't get at all. 

Yunel didn't have a great season with the bat, in 2010, he hit just .256/.337/.318, but then he played pretty decent defense.

Our preseason predictions were pretty optimistic. I guessed he'd hit .290/.355/.410. I'm pointing this out, because it was one of the few times I wasn't far off:

2011 - Yunel Escobar 133 513 77 149 24 3 11 48 61 70 3 3 .290 .369 .413

Fangraphs had him at a 4.3 WAR, giving him a value of $19.3 million for the Jays, which makes the $5 million a year contract, that Alex signed him to in the middle of the season, seem like a huge bargain. He will be making $5 million, for 2012 and 2113, and the team has $5 million options on 2014 and 2015. He must like playing here.

Comparing to 2010, Yunel walked about the same amount, 10.3% this year, 9.9% last year. He struck out a little more often, 11.9% this year, 10.1% last year. His BABIP was up a bit, .316 from .282. He hit about the same amount of line drives, 18.2%, from 18.0%. A few more ground balls, 57.2% from 53.6%. A few less fly balls, 24.7% from 28.4%. The biggest difference, was that he popped out very very little this year, 0.9% from 10.6% last year. Have to like that. I'm doubting that he can keep that up, but it was great. 

Yunel hit lefties .330/.408/.522 much better than right handers, .279/.358/.382.

He hit much better at home, .321/.416/.480 than on the road. .261/.322/.349.

With RISP he hit .278/.369/.389.

By month Yunel hit:

April: .281/.336/.406

May: .317/.421/.490

June: 265/.314/.418

July: .367/.462/.443

August: .232/.293/.304

Sept: .333/.484/.500 

He had his share of little injuries, the concussion early on and the pitch that got his elbow near the end of the year, as well as some bumps and bruises in between. 

His favorite team to hit against? He hit .583/.615/1.000 in 3 games against the Pirates. Of the AL teams, he hit .381/.462/.524 against the Tigers. Least favorite? Yunel was just 2 for 13 in 3 games against the Reds. He hit just .153/.203/.446 in 15 games against the Rays

Escobar's longest hitting streak was 12 games, longest on base streak was 25 games. he never went more than 3 games without a hit. 

On defense, I have no complaints about him. He made 14 errors for a .974 FA (about league average) and had a UZR/150 of 2.0 (in the middle of the pack for AL SS), down from his 4.2 last year. I like him a little better than the numbers say.

Overall, a really good season for Yunel, I like him in the leadoff spot, I know Farrell said he would like to get someone else for the role but that's well down on my list of off-season concerns. I wouldn't be against him moving over to second base, at some point, to let Hechavarria play short, but I'm not sure how far in the future that will be happening. Right now he is one of my favorite Jays. 

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