Royals manager Ned Yost had enough after watching leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar’s batting average dip to .179 in an 8-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday. Escobar was bumped to the No. 8 spot Tuesday against the Houston Astros, and second baseman Whit Merrifield moved into the leadoff role.
Escobar has struggled this season at the plate, where his .204 on-base percentage ranked worst (170th) in the league among hitters eligible for the batting title.
“We’re just trying to find some production,” Yost said. “You look at (Mike Moustakas’) year, he’s got 14 home runs, really been productive swinging the bat … but in the two-hole there hadn’t been a whole lot of RBI opportunities for him.
“We want to try and see if we can create more run-scoring opportunities. We’ll try this to see if they can get on for our big guys in the middle of the order and see if it helps us score more runs.”
After the Royals exercised his option for the 2017 season, Escobar has failed to find consistency at the plate this season. He is making $6.5 million, seventh-highest on the team.
Entering Monday, Merrifield boasted a .307 average, .451 on-base percentage and a league-best 19-game hitting streak.