The Major League Baseball All-Star teams will be announced tomorrow at 1 p.m., and speculation is swirling about who will represent our hometown hosts at the game. Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar have all separated themselves from the pack, with little separating the young Royals stars. So let’s break down each player’s resume and figure out who will be named to the American League squad tomorrow afternoon.
Alcides Escobar – Shortstop
The Case For: Don’t look now, but Alcides Escobar is currently hitting .316 and sporting a .355 on-base percentage. Those numbers place him first and third among American League shortstops, respectively. He ranks third with his .779 OPS, second with 19 doubles, and third with 12 stolen bases. He batted .349 in June with a .477 slugging percentage. In short, he’s been raking.
And all this comes from a guy who was brought to the Royals in the Zack Greinke trade as a defensive specialist with a lot to learn on offense. Well, Escobar has learned all right. His confidence at the plate is palpable, and this incarnation of Escobar in no way resembles the timid, distrusting batter we saw at the beginning of the 2011 season.
And Escobar never stopped being an elite defender. He possesses excellent range, and despite a somewhat pedestrian fielding percentage, he currently ranks second among AL shortstops with 128 putouts and is tied for third with 53 double plays. He also has been regularly featured on Sportscenter’s Top Plays, which is about as impactful for his chances of making the All-Star team as every statistic I’ve cited in the previous two paragraphs combined.
The Case Against: I don’t feel entirely comfortable nit-picking Escobar since he has been so fantastic this year. The only quibble I can summon is that Escobar lacks power, having hit only two home runs on the season.
Also, since the less productive Derek Jeter is a lock to make the team, Escobar could get squeezed behind a power bat like Asdrubal Cabrera or, gulp, a nepotistic selection such as Ron Washington’s own Elvis Andrus.
The bottom line is that Escobar deserves the honor. He can only hope that politics don’t interfere with the correct decision.
Odds of Making Team: 51%. If you’ll notice, the combined percentage odds I’ve divvied out to these three players total out to 126%. That figure reflects my 26% certainty that the Royals will get a second All-Star selection for the first time since Mike Sweeney and Mike MacDougal were honored in 2003.
My Pick: He’s tentatively in, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get shafted by Ron Washington.