The Washington Nationals Have An Alcides Escobar Problem

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: Alcides Escobar #3 of the Washington Nationals takes a swing during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on April 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: Alcides Escobar #3 of the Washington Nationals takes a swing during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on April 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Over his 13-year MLB career, Alcides Escobar had been the definition of dependable — coming through time after time for the Royals. Most notably, he was named 2015 ALCS MVP and was instrumental in the team’s World Series title that same year.

Traded to Washington last season, Escobar has been leaned on for his veteran leadership and defense. A Gold Glover early on in his career, he’s a placeholder for former top prospect Luis García as he works on his defense at AAA.

Unfortunately for Washington, Escobar’s play has degraded and he’s becoming a liability. In fact, the Nationals have a growing Escobar issue.

On the season, he’s hitting an ugly .197, with four RBIs, and an OPS of .480. He’s already struck out 22 times in 76 ABs, while drawing only four walks. He’s been marginally better with runners on base, slashing .281/.324/.344, with an OPS of .667 in such circumstances.

Nationals fans have been struggling to stomach the decision to keep Escobar up over García as the veteran continues to limit the Nationals. After slashing .288/.340/.404 in 75 games last season, he’s been hit hard by father time — becoming a rally killer.

What was once Escobar’s calling card, his defense has started to cost the Nationals games — committing five errors including three across his last two games. Most notably on Wednesday against the Rockies, he committed two errors that led to five runs for Colorado.

With runners on first and second and one out in the fourth, Yonathan Daza hit a groundball that bounced straight to Escobar for what should have been a surefire double play. Instead, the veteran was unable to field it cleanly and everyone was safe. The next three Rockies hitters drove in five runs as Colorado went on to win 5-2.

Escobar manned up after the game and took credit for his poor defense.

“I fielded the ground ball perfectly and then when I tried to transfer it, it just got tangled up in my hand,” Escobar told reporters after the game. “They’re errors that I call dumb. I don’t want to commit them and I feel extremely bad. And I feel even worse since Corbin did a tremendous job for us out there.”

On the season he’s second to last in DRS (-5) and fourth to last in the majors in errors (5). With García continuing to rake in the minors, Escobar is running out of time to turn his season around.

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