Mets Need To Consider Eduardo Escobar At Second Base
When Eduardo Escobar got off to a slow start to the season, the New York Mets did what they should have done to start the season. Brett Baty was called up to the majors to become the everyday third baseman with Escobar going to the bench.
Baty has been very good with a 154 wRC+ and a 1 OAA. He has claimed the Mets third base job for now and hopefully over the next decade. With him hitting his first homer against a left-handed pitcher, Buck Showalter is running out of excuses to sit him in favor of Escobar.
While Baty has been thriving, Escobar has been the consummate professional. He has helped Baty, and he also has been there to do whatever he can do to help this Mets team win.
What has gone unnoticed is he has been hitting well of late. Over his last six games played, Escobar is 6-for-19 with a double, triple, two homers, and five RBI. The obvious caveat there is the Mets have been playing him against left-handed pitching which he hits very well.
Still, the more Escobar hits, the more he is going to push his way into the lineup. Looking at Baty over at third, we know Escobar is losing his opportunities to play at third. Honestly, that is probably a good thing with Escobar having a -6 OAA at third last year and a -9 over the two previous seasons.
However, Escobar has been a good defender at second base. In 2021, he had a 3 OAA at second base. Keep in mind, with Escobar being on the bench, he is going to have to be versatile and be able to play more than just third. Fortunately, as we see here, second is probably his best position.
Escobar at second could help solve an issue for the Mets. At the moment, Mark Canha keeps regressing, and the Mets are running out of reasons to keep him in the everyday lineup. He has a 91 wRC+, and he is not hitting the ball hard.
Historically, Jeff McNeil is a better hitter when he plays left field. In his career, he has a .841 OPS as a left fielder against a .806 as a second baseman. That held true last year with McNeil having a .852 OPS at second as compared to a .863 OPS in left (and .896 in RF). Fact is, he’s a better hitter when he’s playing the outfield.
Getting him out there means Canha sits. Right now, the Mets can’t really sit Canha for Luis Guillorme. Guillorme only has an 80 wRC+, which is low even for him. Even more troubling is the -2 OAA at second. If he’s not fielding like he usually does, there really can’t be a spot for him in the everyday lineup.
The biggest takeaway here is the Mets have three players in Canha, Escobar, and Guillorme who are struggling. McNeil being better in left gives the Mets the ability to ride the hot hand between the three. Right now, Escobar is the hot hand. As a result, he needs to get the bulk of the playing time until he needs to come out of the lineup, and/or Canha or Guillorme get going again.