Alcides Escobar keeps hitting the ball like he's in 'Angels in the Outfield'
For every star player who proves to be the difference-maker for his team in the postseason, there is another role player who, for the briefest of moments, is inhabited by a spirit of skill. Derek Jeter won one World Series MVP with the Yankees -- the same number that Scott Brosius won. While Hall of Famer Paul Molitor won the MVP Award in the Blue Jays' 1993 Series, it was Pat Borders, the catcher with a 77 career OPS+ and zero All-Star appearances, who won the award the year before.
So, like a ghost showing up in the middle of the night to lead you to ancient treasure, it's not unheard of when a player like Alcides Escobar, a defensive specialist with a career .642 OPS, emerges as as a postseason hit king. It's known by sports scientists as "Angels in the Outfield-ism."
After a strong ALDS, hitting a double and a triple with a .742 OPS (which would have been a career high across a full season), Escobar turned it up another notch for the ALCS, taking home MVP honors after a .478/.481/.652 line in the series.
The World Series didn't stop ALCS-ides Escobar, though. After becoming the first player in 112 years to hit a leadoff inside-the-park home run in Game 1, Escobar kept it going in the Royals' 7-1 victory in Game 2. After Escobar picked up another hit in his first at-bat, Ned Yost wanted to prove this Angels in the Outfield syndrome.
With runners on first and second and no one out, Escobar attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt twice. Only problem: The unseen hands of fate reached and pulled the two balls foul. On an 0-2 count, Esocbar promptly laced an RBI single, tying the game at 1. It helped kickstart an inning in which the Royals would score three more times, the outcome never again looking in doubt.
The shortstop wasn't done quite yet, though. After making a great play to steal a hit away from Juan Lagares in the top of the eighth, he stepped in and launched his third triple of the postseason just beyond Lagares' reach in the bottom half -- kind of like if unseen hands lifted the ball over the center fielder's glove. For comparison's sake, he had five across 148 games this season.
Though there's no telling when Angel-related baseball ends, with the Royals now up two games to none, they're in pretty good shape no matter what. The two teams now head to New York for Game 3 on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET air time, 8 p.m. ET game time on FOX).