I don't know if you all have noticed, but Eduardo Escobar is having a career year. In his ninth big league season, Escobar has set or tied career highs in home runs, triples, RBI, stolen bases, and walks. His .254/.312/.448 triple slash (through September 18th) is better than his career slash of .253/.301/.395 too.
He's also one of only two players on the team, the other being Ehire Adrianza, to play six different positions on defense. In a season that has seen an extended absence of Miguel Sano for what seems like forever now, Escobar has stepped up to replace the big man better than could be expected of him.
But how does he compare to other utility players around the league? Well let's take a look, silly! I made a chart with every player who has played at least 100 games, but hasn't played a majority of his teams' games at any one position. All stats are from Baseball Reference and before play on September 18th, 2017. These nine players are the guys who don't start, but still get stuff done better than anyone else.
Utility players batting stats
|Eduardo Escobar, MIN||117||0.254||0.312||0.448||19||63||0.9||85||31|
|Ronald Torreyes, NYY||104||0.287||0.308||0.363||3||36||0.3||42||10|
|Joey Rickard, BAL||107||0.244||0.28||0.35||4||19||0.8||61||9|
|Ezequiel Carrera, TOR||121||0.289||0.362||0.421||8||20||-0.3||70||28|
|Andrew Romine, DET||114||0.232||0.287||0.346||4||23||-1||62||19|
|George Springer, HOU||129||0.291||0.374||0.535||32||79||4.5||105||59|
|Marwin Gonzalez, HOU||123||0.293||0.364||0.521||22||82||3.6||94||42|
|Luis Valbuena, LAA||104||0.197||0.287||0.433||21||58||-0.4||94||40|
|Guillermo Heredia, SEA||117||0.256||0.323||0.349||6||24||1.1||60||26|
Escobar stacks up pretty well with these guys. He doesn't really lead in anything, but he's in the top five in nearly every stat. The two Houston guys tower over everyone else, though. Without them an argument could be made for Escobar being the best utility hitter.
And in case you saw George Springer and thought, "What the heck? He's totally a starter!" Well, he is, but with 77 games in center field and 74 in right field, he hasn't started a majority of the Astros games at either position, so he gets to be on the table. I don't make the rules, I only enforce them.
Speaking of playing different positions, a lot of Escobar's value comes from his ability to play more than one of them. Here's another table showing the number of games at each position for each player.
Positions played by utility players
|Eduardo Escobar, MIN||9||67||16||2||20||1|
|Ronald Torreyes, NYY||51||26||33||1||1|
|Joey Rickard, BAL||42||19||52|
|Ezequiel Carrera, TOR||86||10||23||2|
|Andrew Romine, DET||21||23||21||9||14||22||10||6||1|
|George Springer, HOU||77||74||6|
|Marwin Gonzalez, HOU||31||18||18||35||41||2|
|Luis Valbuena, LAA||47||48||2|
|Guillermo Heredia, SEA||62||57||1||1|
Only Andrew Romine has played in more different positions than Escobar. You've got to give credit to the guy, he's played nine different positions and at least nine games at seven of them. What's interesting about Escobar's positions is that he's played far more games at third base and designated hitter than anyone else. He's also the only one to play a game at catcher so TAKE THAT HOUSTON GUYS.
So maybe Escobar isn't the very best utility player in the league. Houston guys hit more home runs and RBI, most of them have a higher batting average, and Andrew Romine plays more positions, but there are only NINE PLAYERS in the entire American League to not start a majority of their teams' games at a position and still play in at least 100 games.
That kind of versatility is something that's amazing when you have it, and desired if you don't. The Twins are incredibly lucky to have a guy they can plug into almost any position on a whim and not have to worry about his play. Most teams would panic at losing a guy like Sano, but the Twins have been able to rest easy with Escobar coming off the bench.