Alcides Escobar, shortstop for the Kansas City Royals, certainly ought to have won a Gold Glove in 2012. He also ought to have been on the All-Star team, but instead the Texas Rangers manager managed to shoehorn the Rangers shortstop in at third base. No suggestion whatsoever of bias there, of course.
Escobar did finally get some recognition for his outstanding season this week when the Kansas City chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America named him the Joe Burke Special Achievement Award. It’s still not the national honours he so deserves, but it is at least something.
It’s a richly deserved award for Escobar, who in addition to his incredible defense this year also hit .293 with exactly 30 doubles and 35 stolen bases this year. That combination was the best by a Royals in 10 years, the last time being Carlos Beltran‘s 44 two-base hits and 35 stolen bases.
Escobar also developed a considerable knack for getting big hits at crucial moments late in the game; something no one expected from him. By establishing himself as the Royals everyday number two hitter he brought stability to the entire top of the lineup. The 177 hits he had this year were also the most ever by a Royal shortstop, some feat considering the competition on offer.
There can be no argument about Escobar winning the award; although other Royals arguably had better seasons, there were none who so surpassed expectations. Escobar’s season perfectly encapsulated what a special season was, even above the heroics of players like Billy Butler. Hopefully next year he will get the national recognition he deserves as well.