|Eduardo Escobar has taken over the shortstop job.|
It hasn't been all singles, either; he's cracked 15 doubles, which is just shy of making the top 10 in MLB — not bad for a guy whose at-bats for the first month were severely limited.
It could be said that the difference in Thursday's game was that when the Rangers loaded the bases, Shin-Shoo Choo blooped a three-run double; when the Twins loaded them, Escobar hit a line drive at the first baseman for a double play.
He's had just 117 plate appearances, so all the usual caveats about small sample sizes apply. That said, he did hammer International League pitching when he was playing regularly there last season (.308/.380/.500), and he did hit for some respectable batting averages (but without much power) in lower levels of the White Sox chain before getting a big league bench job at age 23.
So far this year, the switch-hitting Escobar has been markedly better as a left-handed hitter (OPS .949 left-handed entering Thursday's play, .709 as a right-handed batter; figures from Baseball Reference). But over his career — which is still less than a full season of plate appearances — he's been better right-handed.
He's an intriguing figure in terms of evaluating his future. The White Sox hurried him into a major league utility infielder job, and he was pigeonholed early into that role. Perhaps he would have been a more highly regarded prospect had the Sox given him time to play in the minors. Instead, he got little playing time in his age 23 and 24 seasons (at least until the Twins sent him to Triple A at the All-Star break last year).
He's getting his chance now, though. And doing something with it. He might not be as good a hitter over a long haul as he's been so far, but he doesn't have to be a .330 hitter to keep the job.