Yunel Escobar Impresses | The Process Report

Yunel Escobar Impresses

Last week Peter Gammons tweeted: “There may be no greater testament to Joe Maddon than Yunel Betancourt since April.” Gammons later clarified that he meant Escobar, not Betancourt. Regardess, he had a point.

Escobar’s season started poorly, with the shortstop grounding out to his counterpart too often for comfort. But the tide has shifted since the end of April, and Escobar has batted .277/.337/.395 since. Not Troy Tulowitzki numbers, yet miles better than the league-average shortstop’s mark of .254/.304/.371. Add Escobar’s glove, as he plays shortstop with skill and verve rarely seen in St. Petersburg, and he’s been one of the team’s better all-around players so far.

Of course, everyone knew Escobar could field the ball and provide some offense at the position. The surprise, and a pleasant one at that, is his mental game. Previously Escobar’s immaturity and mental gaffes drowned the goodwill created by his game. This season, however, Escobar’s been able to avoid silly mistakes, be it on the basepaths or defensively. When he has erred it’s been a physical error more often than not. It’s worth noting how invigorated and energetic Escobar seems, too. If he doesn’t love throwing the ball, or making a tough play, then he sure is a good actor.

Maddon deserves credit, along with the rest of the Rays’ support staff, but so does Escobar. He’s stayed focused and seemingly happy since the get-go. Even when things were going poory he remained engaged. Being traded twice in one offseason is a proverbial wake-up call. Not every player answers the phone. Escobar, at least so far, has, and that’s part of the reason why his team-friendly contract is becoming one of the Rays’ best assets.