Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Where Would The Nats Be Without Yunel Escobar?

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Back in January when Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made the trade that sent one of the Nats’ top relievers, Tyler Clippard, to the Oakland Athletics, fans were wondering why the team would trade a key piece of their bullpen away. The piece they got in return was Yunel Escobar and fans were wondering where the former Rays shortstop would be playing in 2015 with Ian Desmond on the team. Turns out, Escobar has been needed more than was originally thought.

On Monday night, Escobar had one of the best games he had in his entire career. He went 5-for-5 against the Marlins, which included the game-winning two out single in the bottom of the eighth inning against Bryan Morris. Escobar’s five hits were more than he had in the entire Mets series, when he went 4-for-18 at the plate (three of those hits in one game).

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The 32-year-old was originally slated to move to second base when he got to the Nation’s Capital. However, those plans changed. With Anthony Rendon injuring his knee this spring, Escobar volunteered to go to third base, a position that he hadn’t played in the majors since 2007 with the Atlanta Braves.

With the latest news on Rendon, the Nationals have to be happy they have Escobar, who has shown great work ethic and has been one of the team’s best offensive players. On Monday, Rendon went to the team doctors after having tightness in his left side. Now, the Nats third baseman last season won’t be doing any baseball activities anytime soon:

Danny Espinosa has done a good job at third base when he has had to play the position, but Washington can use him as the second baseman on most days with the way Escobar has played.

As I mentioned earlier, Escobar has been one of the team’s best offensive players. He leads the team in batting average (.311) and is second in on-base percentage behind Bryce Harper, who has reached base in 20 consecutive games. On defense, he has made just one error all season long.

Whether he has been leadoff, in the number two spot, or lower in the lineup, Escobar has been a constant contributor on an offense that has been inconsistent in the early stages of the 2015 season.

While it’s too soon to judge who won the Escobar-Clippard trade and the bullpen has had some question marks in the early stages, one thing is for certain. Without Escobar on this team, the Nats would not be close to the 13-14 record they have now. Right now, you have to score this trade as a success for Mike Rizzo, but there is still plenty of time before you put that checkmark in pen, not pencil.

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