For over a week now, Royals fans have been divided by the phenomenon that is Esky Magic. Alcides Escobar has once again been thrust into his familiar role as leadoff man in a much-maligned Royals offense, only to see them miraculously come to life.
His specific contribution to the cause? A .226/.226/.258 batting line. While yes, that is pathetic, it IS actually better than his season line of .193/.221/.252.
Do not stare at those numbers long, they may give you a migraine.
So what IS the big debate all about? Esky IS, in fact, a terrible leadoff hitter………Right?
OF COURSE HE IS!
Hell, forget “poor leadoff hitter,” Esky has reached the offensive equivalent of an AL pitcher at the plate. Madison Bumgarner actually has a career slash of .185/.233/.324. Bumgarner’s career OPS is 80 points HIGHER than what Alcides Escobar has managed to muster this season. So yes….he is turrible. Worse than turrible. Omar Infante gasps at his statistics Esky is so bad this season.
So why is he there getting more at bats than any other Royals hitter? Its simple. Domes.
Ned Yost placed Esky in the leadoff spot for one reason and one reason alone. The Royals were losing. A lot.
So in a move dripping with nostalgia, Yost reached back to the days of yore when the Royals offense was humming along and Esky was manning the leadoff spot. Not SUCESSFULLY mind you (career .256/.289/.315 line batting from the 1 hole), but he was there nonetheless. And look what happened….the Royals started winning.
Does having a poor batter lead off actually help a team hit better? No. Is Esky helping them at the top by wasting outs? No. Would any professional skipper in his right might actually use some dumb superstitious excuse of a reason to construct a Major League Roster? Heavens no.
Should Alcides Escobar continue batting at the top of the order? Well hell yes he should, you want to start losing again?
Much like Rally Sauce, Rally Mantis, not stepping on the white lines, flipping the cap inside out when down late in the game, and the Salvy Splash, some things just CANNOT be messed with. Do pet bugs REALLY help teams bat better? Does a jar of BBQ sauce REALLY help overcome a deficit? Does wearing your hat inside out have any actual purpose other than to make you look dumb as hell?
No……unless the players THINK it does.
The simple fact is, even with Esky having a TERRIBLE on-base percentage, the minimal effect of his extra plate appearances pales in comparison to the overall offensive increase of the other hitters who become more comfortable and confident. At the end of the day, the psychology of the players matters far more than minor statistical advantages. Simply put, batting order doesn't matter enough to mess with a good thing.
Lets look at it like this….if his on base percentage was 50 points higher, that would be a difference in just 5% more base runners from that one position in the batting order. Over the course of an entire season, you bet that adds up. But over the course of a few weeks its an incredibly minimal sacrifice if for some GOOFY ASS REASON it actually helps the team score more runs.
Is it science? No. Is it working? I don’t know. Would I bat Esky leadoff tomorrow? Hell yes….only a fool wouldn't.
After all, one thing is enigmatically clear. Esky magic wins games.
To those who believe in Esky Magic, they don’t care, because WIN. GAMES – and there is nothing more important than winning games. There is also nothing in Escobar’s offensive performance to signify that him hitting leadoff leads to the Royals actually winning. This is what ... Read more