Last night, those looking at the lineup card may have noticed something a bit peculiar – Yunel Escobar was hitting in the second spot in the lineup. The main reason why this would have appeared odd? Well, Escobar has not hit second at all for the Rays this season.
Yet, this promotion up the batting order would be well deserved. Over the past 28 games heading into last night, Escobar had been hitting at a .333/.416/.397 rate, with eleven walks. He has been even better at getting on base in the past week, with a .333/.524/.467, walking six times in 22 plate appearances. Even more impressive is that Escobar has only one strikeout in that timeframe.
With the Rays struggles to score runs lately, it makes sense for Joe Maddon to get creative with his lineup. Putting Escobar, who has getting on base at a high rate, in front of Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria makes sense. The best way to try to jumpstart what has been an anemic offense over the past two weeks. In that time, the Rays have managed only 48 runs, only 3.5 per game.
Perhaps on a roster with players such as Desmond Jennings and Zobrist, it would not be expected that Escobar would end up as the second hitter in the lineup. Yet, he has been getting on base at such a rate that he may be more valuable in the second spot in the lineup than at the bottom. Even though he may not be the prototypical second hitter, Maddon does reward results, and Escobar has produced over the past month.
Should Yunel Escobar continue to get on base as he has been, he may see more time in the second spot of the lineup. Anything that can jumpstart the offense is worth exploring, and Escobar hitting second is a worthwhile experiment.