Why is Eduardo Escobar a defender to watch in 2023?
Escobar, who signed with the Mets with a reputation as a decent defensive third baseman, finished with a career-worst -11 Defensive Runs Saved at third base in 2022. Only two third basemen finished worse in the stat than he did.
Fewest Defensive Runs Saved In 2022 – Third Base
The Mets infield ranked 26th in turning ground balls and bunts into outs last season, 29th if we look at balls hit to an area from two-thirds of the way between second and third base to the third base line.
As such, both shortstop Francisco Lindor and Escobar finished with negative Defensive Runs Saved in 2022.
Escobar’s trouble was with balls hit to his right, in particular balls that he tried to backhand. Escobar made 11 fewer plays than expected on balls hit to his right, worst among third basemen. He converted 52 of 94 (53%) when – by the stats- he should have converted 63. By comparison, Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson rated slightly above average. He turned 70% of balls hit to his right into outs.
His 81% play conversion rate when he fielded a ball on his backhand ranked fourth-worst among the 30 third basemen with the most backhand chances.
The Mets have multiple other options at third base with utility infielder Luis Guillorme and minor leaguers Brett Baty and Mark Vientos waiting for their turn. Escobar improved his hitting last year when he needed to in the latter part of the season. For 2023, keep an eye on if he can get his defense to a better level too.