It wasn’t too long ago that being a top American League shortstop meant you were probably named Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, or Nomar Garciaparra. But now that Jeter is in a steep decline, Rodriguez is playing third base, and Garciaparra is retired, being an elite AL shortstop has more or less lost its zeal. That said, 28 year-old Yunel Escobar of the Toronto Blue Jays has quietly emerged as the preeminent shortstop the AL has to offer.
Yunel Escobar didn’t exactly appear out of thin air, as he was formerly a top prospect in the Atlanta Braves system. The shortstop showcased his diverse abilities in 2009, by posting a .299/.377/.436 line with 14 homeruns, 76 RBI, 89 runs, 5 stolen bases and a 1.7 UZR/150. Despite improving both offensively and defensively from 2007 to 2009, he still always found himself in Braves manager Bobby Cox’s doghouse. Given his rocky standing with the Braves, Escobar was unsurprisingly dealt in 2010 with Jo-Jo Reyes to the Blue Jays for Alex Gonzalez, Tim Collins, and Tyler Pastornicky. Continue reading