I hear frequently that home runs and walks and strikeouts are ruining baseball. For proponents of such thought, I implore you to get to Kansas City and enjoy one of the game’s most amazing streaks going, because have we got something for you.
Alcides Escobar does not walk (once every 25 plate appearances for his career). He does not hit home runs (40 in 10 big league seasons). He can flash the leather, and recently has started playing all over the field. And he has now played in 429 straight games as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
That span has stretched from the Royals’ magical postseason run to a World Series title in 2015 (he last sat in a game that September prior to the postseason), through the last two seasons — where much of the same team muddled around .500 — to this year, where things have collapsed as key figures (like Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer) have moved on, and the cupboard has been neglected.
Alcides Escobar wasn’t going to be a Royal again after last season, but honestly, no one wanted him. He was sitting there, and Dayton Moore brought him back. And if he’s there, well, he’s playing.
Escobar is batting .200 this year, with an on-base percentage of .257, and a slugging percentage under .300. That’s a decline from last year, when his on-base percentage was .272, and it hasn’t been over .300 since before 2015.
Over the last four years, while playing in 429 straight games, he has a negative Wins Above Replacement.
So you might expect that I am calling for him to be out of the lineup, because why would you continue to give at-bats to one of the worst hitters in baseball? Oh no. Sure, if the Royals were a contender, that would be the case. But this is a lost season (25-55), and maybe the first of many. Play the man all over. Play him every day.
Here are the OPS+ of some of the Royals’ hitters with more than 80 plate appearances with the team: 18, 28, 49, 56, 56, 63, 77, 81. (Escobar is the “49”). Those are winning Powerball numbers, folks. He’s not the only problem here. He’s a holdover from the World Series win (he actually batted leadoff most of the time, and gosh darn if it didn’t matter). And he actually helps the Royals in the one thing that matters at this point–getting a top pick in the draft.
So let this streak go on forever, or at least until the team can field a contender by actually having some prospects. He’s played centerfield and third base in the last week to keep the streak going. Let him play all over. Let him pitch (he has a strong arm and might surprise). Let him DH. Let him have a game where he plays every position.
There’s not a whole lot going on in Kansas City now anyway, where the only other story is whether the team should sign a child molester. I’d rather hear about a guy who can’t hit but gets to hit forever.