Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, and Ervin Santana are deserving Minnesota Twins MVP candidates, but utility man Eduardo Escobar is the real MVP of 2017.
Over the past few seasons, the 28-year old has been one of those guys every manager loves in the clubhouse. A guy that genuinely loves the game, his teammates and most importantly, his fans.
In fact, there’s been no greater Twins moment in my life than seeing him light up my sister’s world just a couple of years ago. She reached out to him via Twitter asking if she could meet her favorite player in person on her birthday. In response, Escobar told her to meet him prior to the game where he would not only take a picture with her, but give her a Twins cap signed by him.
It’s moments like these that show you just how great some athletes really are. At the same time, they are moments that make you root for a player even harder than ever before.
So, you can imagine I was pretty thrilled to see Escobar have a career-year in his fifth full season with the Twins. Replacing injured All-Star Miguel Sano, the Venezuelan filled in admirably at third base, delivering career-highs in home runs (21) and RBIs (73) to go along with a respectable .254 batting average. Not to mention, 10 of his 21 home runs came after replacing Sano in late August.
Most impressively, he led the Twins with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in September, helping the team clinch their first playoff appearance since 2010. Even with the likes of Brian Dozier, Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, and Joe Mauer, it’s important to emphasize that Escobar was the one leading the way. Not one of the young or veteran studs.
Now, let’s give credit where credit is due. All those guys listed above had fantastic seasons. Along with ace Ervin Santana, each could rightfully claim the title of Twins MVP.
But, let’s take into account everything Escobar did for Minnesota before just handing it to someone else.
When Sano went down, many didn’t expect the Twins to stay in the playoff hunt without arguably their best player. Basically, no one believed his production could be replaced and rightfully so. I mean, it’s hard to replace your top power hitter in the middle of the lineup. Often times, it just doesn’t happen.
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Yet, Escobar defied the odds. We already discussed his September, but to put things in perspective, Sano NEVER had that many home runs or RBIs in a month. That’s just insane given how great the big man was this season.
Additionally, Escobar remained strong in the field with a .963 fielding percentage at third base, just below Sano’s .967 fielding percentage. So, added altogether, Escobar didn’t just replace Sano, he downright outperformed him. That’s not even meant to be a knock on someone who deservedly made the AL All-Star Team, but rather a testament to just how phenomenal Escobar was.
Even so, I don’t expect “Escy” to get the recognition he deserves, let alone win the team’s MVP award. But, the way he stepped in and delivered at a time the Twins needed him most was by far the greatest story of the season in my opinion.
It’s because of this that I feel he deserves to be named the Twins’ MVP. Essentially, Minnesota wouldn’t have ended up where they did without him.
While another name likely goes down as the Twins’ MVP of 2017, Escobar is clearly the MVP in my book.