Alcides Escobar usually thrills Kansas City Royals fans with stellar defense, but this year he entered Spring Training with his mind set on improving offensively. While it’s true that the majority of Alcides’ value rests in his defensive abilities, he can still prove to be an asset with the bat, too. Escobar diligently added tone and mass with the thought of improving at the plate, but will the extra pounds of muscle he’s added in the offseason help or hinder his offensive endeavors?
KC’s skipper Ned Yost agreed with local media’s assertion that Escobar looked bigger upon reaching camp in Surprise, Arizona this month. While extra muscle is usually good news when it comes to most athletes, Alcides may just be a glaring exception. Do you really want a bigger, beefier guy to hit for contact and play killer defense at short? Although that’s an obnoxiously rhetorical question, it’s still too early to judge.
We don’t know how the increased beefiness will influence Escobar’s offensive role in 2014, but we do know this: even at the very bottom of KC’s order, Alcides’ offensive contributions will still be of great significance.
Considering how many at-bats Escobar gets per season, the degree to which he could help the team offensively seems understated. Alcides joined Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon last year as the only three Royals with more than 600 at-bats. Of the seven players to play over 100 games for KC, Escobar recorded the second-lowest average with .234, placing him only .001 points ahead of Mike Moustakas.
Fans know how badly the Royals need Moose to improve, but Escobar’s efforts this year may account for the most unexpected improvement of the season.