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What to expect from Eduardo Escobar

Supremely versatile, Escobar brings depth along with power bat.

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

When the Brewers acquired super utility player and switch-hitting power bat Eduardo Escobar from Arizona, they reinforced strengths, bolstered shortcomings, and significantly improved their depth. David Stearns calls this redundancy, and Escobar is the walking embodiment of it.

Offensively, the most important thing Escobar offers the Brewers is power. They lost their most anticipated power bats of 2021 (Yelich and Hiura) to season-long slumps. Before the trade deadline, the Crew found themselves wanting in the power department despite notable contributions from home run leaders Avisaíl Garcia (18), Luis Urías (13), and Willy Adames (13 in 62 games with Milwaukee), and consistent slugger Omar Narváez (.829 OPS). In all of Major League Baseball, at the time of the Escobar trade, the Crew was 17th in terms of home runs (127) and 23rd in terms of team slugging percentage (.390 SLG).

Like many power hitters, Escobar had a down 2020, but in 2019, slugged .511 with a career-high 35 home runs and .242 ISO. In 2021, he’s slugging .480 with 23 home runs and .236 ISO. Escobar broke out as a power hitter with the Twins in 2017, and at the exception of the shortened and slumping 2020, he has produced 20 or more home runs in every season since. He’s been pacing for a career-high home run season with the Diamondbacks. That’s still an entirely reasonable expectation now that he’s swinging for the Brewers in another home run-friendly field. Homer number 23 came in Escobar’s first appearance as a Milwaukee Brewer on July 30.

Escobar sacrifices other offensive contribution for the longball, sitting slightly above average in terms of WRC+ (105), and hovers right in the average range in terms of strikeout percentage, whiff rate, chase rate, and expected weighted on-base average. Escobar collects hits at an about average clip and gets on base less effectively.

Simply enough, Escobar’s slash line (.244/.301/.480), points to what he’s meant to do offensively in Milwaukee.

He does what he does well at both sides of the plate, which makes him particularly valuable for the Brewers, who like to platoon according to pitching match-ups, especially when you consider that Escobar can hold down just about any position in the field. Prior to signing with the Brewers, he had appeared at every position but first base, including pitcher and catcher.

That didn’t deter the Brewers, who need Escobar sure up offensive production at first base, likely in a platoon situation with Rowdy Tellez. He made his debut at the position in his second game with The Crew on July 31.

Despite Luis Urías’ success at third base since the Willy Adames signing, the Brewers will likely also want Escobar to put in some time at third. He’s put in the most time at third with the Diamondbacks in 2021, though also putting in a significant time at second, all to the tune of 8 OAA. This provides good assurance for Kolten Wong, who has been brilliant despite frequent injuries in 2021.

Escobar can also provide some backup in the outfield. He can either stand in for season-long slumpers Christian Yelich (in terms of power) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (altogether) or to cover for injury and off-days.

Escobar, known for being a down-to-earth and bolstering clubhouse presence, fits well into the Crew’s fun and energetic clubhouse. He’ll add on to the vibe set by resident hype men like Willy Adames.

As of now, Escobar is essentially functioning as a post-season run rental. He has $2.7 million left on his 2021 contract for the Crew to pick up. He’ll become a free agent after that.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, and Statcast.