In an era with a plethora of young, productive infielders populating rosters, the Angels were forced to pick up the option of an aging, light-hitting, converted shortstop to man the hot corner. Yunel Escobar did his part in 2016, sporting an excellent 87 percent contact rate for the third time in four seasons. In fact, Escobar's contact rate has ranged from 86 to 89 percent throughout his career. Unfortunately, that's where the good news ends as his already marginal pop is declining and he has no speed. The veteran has played more than 150 games only once (2013). He's averaged 136 games the past three seasons, further dampening mixed-league potential. Escobar's average is useful in AL-only formats, but in terms of mixed, he won't play enough, or well enough to be a consideration until injuries thin the pool. A final cautionary note: even though the club picked up his option, $7 million isn't enough to preclude Escobar from ceding playing time to Jefry Marte or perhaps Caleb Cowart if the youngsters excel in the spring.
Escobar is out of the lineup Sunday against the Blue Jays, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports. Escobar was removed early from Friday's series opener after experiencing dizziness, but returned to the lineup Saturday, going 0-for-4. It appears he's just getting rested Sunday for the first time all season, so Escobar's health looks to be on solid ground entering the upcoming week. Jefry Marte will cover third base in Escobar's place Sunday.
Escobar left Friday's game in the sixth inning with an apparent injury, Maria Guardado of MLB.com reports. It's unclear what, if any, injury Escobar sustained. Earlier in the sixth inning, Escobar was nearly hit by a pitch, and it wasn't apparent if he sustained an injury from the pitch itself or when he fell down in an attempt to avoid it (or to try and sell to the umpire that the ball had hit him). One reporter even called it a "non-contact upper body injury." Cliff Pennington replaced him at third base and would be the likely short-term replacement should Escobar miss any further action.
Escobar went 2-for-4 with the Angels' only RBI in a 5-1 loss to Houston on Wednesday. The RBI was Escobar's fifth of the season, putting him on pace to finish with just under 50 on the year. The 35-year-old won't generate many RBI opportunities while batting leadoff, but he should be able to challenge his career-high mark of 89 runs if he continues to keep his batting average north of .300 this season.
Escobar racked up two singles, a double and a walk in five plate appearances Tuesday against Texas. That makes four consecutive multi-hit games -- a spell in which he's gone a ridiculous 11-for-17 with three doubles and a homer -- for Escobar, who's thriving at the top of Anaheim's lineup. With this hot start, he appears fairly well guaranteed to make another run at hitting .300, but Escobar's limited power and speed have always held him back in fantasy.
Escobar went 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored in a wild 10-9 comeback victory over the Mariners on Sunday. The 34-year-old continues to rake, as he's batting .414 in the early going and has only one hitless performance in the first seven games to start the year. Escobar makes a lot of contact and will sport a high average, but that's really all he does well for fantasy owners, making him more of a corner infielder in AL-only leagues.
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