The Washington Nationals were pleasantly surprised by Danny Espinosa’s early season progress, but his solid start has quickly turned into another slump.
As the opening month of the season ended, Espinosa was hitting a reliable .288 with a .341 on-base percentage and .828 OPS. To go along with his solid bat, Espinosa was playing a stellar second base and was adequately subbing in for Ryan Zimmerman both offensively and defensively.
However as May rolled around Espinosa’s fortunes took a quick turn for the worst. This month he is hitting a lowly .127 with a .173 on base percentage and .441 OPS. All three of these statistics rank him last in the National League among all qualified hitters.
Espinosa has never been known to have a great eye at the plate. In 330 combined at bats over the last two years, he has only drawn 10 walks. In these 330 at bats, Espinosa has struck out a horrific 100 times. So far this month Espinosa has struck out 33 times while only drawing 2 walks. If Espinosa is going to overcome his dreadful performances since 2013, he is going to have to increase his contact ratio and put more pressure on the defense.
Defensively, Espinosa is one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball. Surprisingly, Espinosa still has a 0.2 WAR according to Fangraphs thanks to his defense. Offensively, however, Espinosa has a -3.4 WAR.
For the time being the Nationals have no other choice but to play Espinosa on a semi-regular basis. Until many of the regulars return from the disabled list, except Espinosa to get somewhat regular at bats. If Espinosa doesn’t improve offensively, he will see his at bats limited later on in the season and could find himself back in AAA Syracuse.
The Nationals cannot wait but so much longer for Espinosa to find his stroke. With Anthony Rendon currently handling second base, Espinosa’s role within the organization could become increasingly diminished. If Espinosa’s problems at the plate persist, he could be on the trading block this July.