Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yay or Nay: Alcides Escobar, Dayan Viciedo

Alcides Escobar:

Escobar is a player a remember relatively well from his days as a Brewer. While he did show plenty of promise with his speed and defense, the offensive side of the game is one where he experienced plenty of struggles. After going to Kansas City in the trade that brought Zach Greinke over to the Brewers, he continued to get regular playing time primarily due to his glove.

Escobar has been on a recent hot streak with his bat and he has a nice 129 OPS+ in his first 69 plate appearances. While he is at an age (27) when many players hit their peak, I am naturally a bit skeptical. His most similar player through age 26 is Cesar Izturis , a player that was never mistaken for a strong offensive player or someone who ever had much fantasy value.

In a best case scenario, he's not going to provide much power or get many rbi opportuntities (he's primarily hit ninth this year) so it comes down to whether he could provide enough in the batting average and stolen bases category to help your team. One red flag is that his BABIP (.380) is a bit high and will eventually take his batting average down with it. Also, he appears to be a player who has taken advantage of a soft schedule. While he has hit well against sub .500 teams, he is sporting a .572 OPS against teams with winning records. While I know there are less and less stolen base threats and that shortstop is historically a thin position, i'm still skeptical on Escobar's value going forward and i'm going to have to say Nay.

Dayan Viciedo:

For what it's worth, Viciedo comes into today as the AL Leader in batting average (.361) but hasn't hit for much power (1 homer in 68 plate appearances) with both of these trends being outside career norms for him. Over the last couple years, he's hit double figure homers but had a mediocre batting average and drew less than 30 walks each season, something that tends not to bode well in the long term.

The Tank is still only 25 though so it is possible that he is in the process of taking his game to the next level. His most similar player through age 24 is Mike Marshall who had a career year at age 25 .293/.342/.515 141 OPS+ 28 homers and Larry Walker is fourth on his similar list through age 24 so it is possible that better days are ahead for him.

While I think he is a decent option if you need power, as I suspected the batting average is not even close to being sustainable as his BABIP is in at (.429). One positive I see in Viciedo is he's not just padding his numbers against bad teams as he's done his best work against teams north of the .500 mark (1.036 OPS).

I think Viciedo could be a valuable pickup. While his batting average is going to regress, his strong performance against some of the better teams in the league leads me to believe that he's in for a better season. I think he will show some improvement in batting average ending up in the .270-.280 range while throwing in somewhere in the 20-25 home run range. For Viciedo, i'm going to say Yay.

All numbers, comparisons, etc. found on baseball-reference.com