Why Eduardo Escobar might be the most important New York Met in 2023
You might think it's a stretch to think that a player who is going to spend most of his time at the bottom third of the batting order for the Mets would be their most important player. But considering the circumstances of the off season, I'm here to tell you that it's not as much of a stretch as you might believe.
Eduardo Escobar had a rough first five months of his debut season in New York, hitting .218 with 12 home runs, 44 RBI and an OPS of .652 through the end of August. But a torrid September brought his 2022 numbers close to his career averages, and his OPS+ of 106 was actually six points higher than his career average. Still, when Steve Cohen made his grand attempt to super size the offense with the Carlos Correa "almost-signing," Escobar was the player that would have been most affected.
When the Correa deal fell through, the lineup remained pretty much status quo from 2022. That's not a bad thing since the Mets were one of the best teams offensively last season in the National League (1st in hits, 2nd in OBP, 3rd in runs, 4th in OPS). But now it's up to the players to have seasons that are similar or better than they were a year ago.
The one that has an opportunity to improve by leaps and bounds is Escobar. Not that anyone is expecting him to put up six months of his September/October numbers (.321 AVG, 8 HR, 25 RBI, .982 OPS in 122 PAs). However, if Escobar can improve on what can he chalked up to "first year in New York jitters" and some personal issues, it would go a long way to lengthening the lineup, which is why Cohen was so hungry to sign Correa. Without Correa, Escobar gets that chance, playing a lot of third base and handling some DH duties. And that's with or without Brett Baty up with the big club. So, Escobar's importance rose exponentially with the re-release of Correa's medicals.
We all know more or less what to expect from guys like Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil and Starling Marte at this point. It's someone like Escobar, somewhat of a wild card at the bottom of the order, whose performance could make the difference between gliding to the playoffs and entering a death battle for the final spot.
Photo: Mark Rosenman