The New York Mets are fortunate this season in that they have a deep team. Despite the various injuries that the team has suffered so far, they have been able to weather them thanks to the depth that the front office built up in the offseason.
Because of this depth, Mets manager Buck Showalter is constantly faced with many lineup decisions and how he should allocate playing time. Understandably so, Showalter started off the season by giving key free agent acquisitions Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar starting roles in the team’s offense, which is a strategy that has mostly paid off. Marte’s having a solid year, and Canha is hitting better this season than he did last year.
The problem is Escobar, who has regressed to a level that raises the question whether he deserves the amount of playing time he is receiving at third base.
The Mets should give less playing time to Eduardo Escobar.
Escobar was an All-Star last season, splitting his time with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was a key piece to a Brewers team that needed an offensive jolt to secure their place in the postseason. Escobar performed well with the Brew Crew, compiling a .268/.342/.458 batting line with an OPS+ of 114 (100 is the league average).
This season, however, Escobar is not playing like the solid, reliable infielder that he was with Milwaukee. Instead, he is playing like a replaceable third baseman whose prime is coming to a close. Through the end of June, Escobar had a slash line of .222/.283/.375 with 6 home runs.
Escobar has played in over 70 games. His numbers do not represent a small sample size. The 2022 MLB season is essentially halfway through, and Escobar has yet to come out of his prolonged slump. His struggles are reminiscent of shortstop Francisco Lindor’s last year: his first year in New York, for whatever reason, is not going as planned. Apart from hitting for the cycle, Escobar has not had much to cheer about.
Escobar’s ongoing struggles raise the question of whether he should begin to receive less playing time. Consider the other two infielders who could theoretically cut into his playing time, Luis Guillorme and J.D. Davis. Guillorme is having a fantastic year serving as the Mets utility infielder. He has been arguably the best defensive infielder on the team, and he has also contributed offensively, holding a batting average over .300 through the end of June. He has earned the right to receive consistent playing time for the time being. Davis hasn’t had quite the impact that Guillorme has had, but he is still currently hitting better than Escobar.
The Mets have an interesting decision to make regarding Escobar. Do they continue to trust that he makes the necessary adjustments to perform better, or will the team resign themselves to the fact that Escobar may not be the hitter the Mets thought they were getting when they handed him a two-year contract? If they decide the latter, Escobar is going to find himself serving as an expensive bench player sooner rather than later.