Shortstop Alcides Escobar demonstrated how valuable he is to the Kansas City Royals with his first-pitch inside-the-park home run in Game 1 of the World Series. With Escobar leading off, the Royals went 11-4 in the postseason.
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, the Royals will again rely on Escobar as their leadoff hitter – but who hits after him?
The free agent departure of Ben Zobrist earlier this winter leaves a hole between Escobar and the No. 3 hitter, Lorenzo Cain.
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Earlier this week, manager Ned Yost addressed the issue with MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, admitting that, "We have to decide on the No. 2 spot. Losing [Ben] Zobrist leaves a pretty big hole. But we got guys who can do it. We got Moose [Mike Moustakas] who did it. And we got Gordo [Alex Gordon]."
In 2015, Moustakas hit second in 94 games, hitting .280/.341/.418 in that span. Gordon, meanwhile, appeared in just nine games in the second spot in the order. It’s expected that Moustakas and Gordon will fill the second and sixth places in the order, though it’s uncertain at the moment which player will hit where.
Yost added that he’s considered having Jarrod Dyson hit ninth to have a ‘backup leadoff guy down there’, but was quick to tell Flanagan that things aren’t set in stone yet: "Those are conversations we’ll have at our organizational meetings next week. I’ll talk with the coaches and everyone else. It’s a decision we make together."
Having this type of ‘issue’ being one of the team’s only big decisions to make is a luxury, and speaks to the depth of the Royals’ roster as they prepare to defend their World Series title in the competitive American League.