Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez with about two posts per week until Spring Training. Enjoy.
The Nats saw a lot from Danny Espinosa in his 2011 rookie season, and it got many excited for what he would produce throughout his career. He showed great defense, hit for power, and was a Rookie of the Year candidate for the first half of the season. He trailed off in the second half in a drastic way, and he didn't seem to totally recover in 2012 either.
While Espinosa increased his batting average by 11 points, his on-base and slugging percentages went down. His home runs went down, too. One thing that didn't struggle, though, was his defense.
Espinosa saw his UZR skyrocket from 1.0 in 2011 to 7.1 in 2012. To put that 2012 number in perspective, the only NL second basemen with a higher UZR were Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis, and Brandon Phillips. However, that number is deceptively low. Espinosa played more than 300 innings at shortstop due to Ian Desmond's injury this year, and he amassed a 5.9 UZR there.
Throughout the season though, his biggest issue became one thing: strikeouts. In situations where he just needed to put the bat on the ball, he couldn't seem to do it. He finished the year with an astronomical 189 Ks. Only two players, Adam Dunn and Curtis Granderson, had more in all of baseball, and they both eclipsed the 40 home run mark. Espinosa didn't hit 20 this year.
You don't expect much of a bat from your second baseman, traditionally. There are very few second baseman currently in the league that have a significant offensive impact, and Danny Espinosa doesn't need to have one either. His defense is so outstanding, he still has enough value to leave him in. However, the guy hitting seventh or eighth in your lineup can't strike out close to 200 times in a season if you're not hitting 40-50 home runs a season. He absolutely must fix that issue.
Next year: I fully expect Danny Espinosa to be the starting second baseman for the Nats next year. I know some would like to see Steve Lombardozzi in that role, but read my wrap up of Lombo's season to show why Espinosa still has more value to the Nats. And it's not just my opinion. It's math.
Next up: #10 Corey Brown