Blue Jays 2011: various shortstops

29 12 2011

If the Jays want to improve their farm system, one of the first things they need to do is get the heck out of Las Vegas. Even if you leave out the whole Sin City thing, it’s not a great place for a farm team: it’s hot there, it’s in a time zone far away, and the ballpark inflates hitting statistics so much that any player who bats below .350 is likely to wash out in the majors.

But even the Las Vegas park’s tendency to help hitters doesn’t completely explain Adeiny Hechavarria in 2011. How can anyone go from batting .235 in New Hampshire to batting .389 in Las Vegas? How good a hitter is he, really?

The reports on his fielding say that it is wondrous, which suggests that Hechavarria could become either the next Tony Fernandez or the next Cesar Izturis. Your guess is as good as mine as to which it will be.

* * * * *

The effect of a player on clubhouse chemistry cannot be seen by us outsiders but can only be inferred. The obvious inference is that John McDonald must be a wonderful guy to be around – what else would explain that not one but two teams have decided to give him two-year contracts, despite not having an OBP higher than .279 since 2005, and despite turning 37 in 2011? Sure, he’s a good fielder, but there are a lot of good fielders out there. It’s a long season; I suppose it’s worth it to have a really nice guy or two in the clubhouse, even if they can’t hit at all.

I will remember two things from McDonald’s time in Toronto (besides his defense). The first was his hitting a home run on Father’s Day. The second: in Toronto, the starting pitchers have their own special bench – nobody who is not in the rotation is allowed to sit there. The only other player allowed to sit with the starting pitchers was McDonald. So there you go.

* * * * *

The most remarkable thing about Yunel Escobar’s 2011 season was that it was so unremarkable. Sure, he got thrown out of a game or two, and he didn’t run out a grounder or two that he should have. But, for the most part, Escobar had a fairly quiet season – he showed up, he batted leadoff, and he had a .369 on-base percentage.

When looking at his stats, it’s actually not that surprising that Escobar was quietly consistent. If you throw out 2010, his numbers have remained startlingly steady over the years:

2008: .288 BA, .366 OBP, .401 SLG
2009: .299 BA, .377 OBP, .436 SLG
2011: .290 BA, .369 OBP, .413 SLG

If you don’t mess with him, you know pretty much what you’re going to get. Which is pretty good. I think you can forgive the occasional half-hearted effort on a routine ground ball if you’re going to get this in return. The only real downside of having Yunel Escobar as your shortstop is that he is going to miss a few games with injuries – his career high in games played is 141.




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