Nationals Baseball: Danny Espinosa, I do not know you.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Danny Espinosa, I do not know you.

(Sung to the tune of "Gary, Indiana" from The Music Man)

Dan-ny Es-pi-NO-sa,
Dan-ny ES-pi-no-sa,
Dan-ny Es-pi-no-SA!

...what? The kids don't like musicals that cast pool as the great evil anymore? Bah!

As far as the Nats offense goes I feel like I got a pretty good grasp on how almost everyone is going to do. Those with a lot of major league experience (Werth, Zimm, The French Rock) are easy enough to predict. I think Morgan and Desmond will fall nicely into "better than last year, still not as good as fans hope". Pudge will have an empty batting average and stink. Ramos will have an empty batting average and not stink. But Danny Espinosa eludes me.

Honestly he should elude me. He only played 28 games in the majors last year and only 24 in AAA. Those stats are hard to take as meaningful.

AA (99 games) .259 / .332 / .461
AAA (24) .295 /.349 / .463
Maj (28) .214 /.277 /.447

Worse yet they don't seem to be saying the same thing. Up until Danny made the jump to AAA, his minor league stats were pointing in the same direction. He'd be a low average major leaguer with decent pop, and just enough patience to make him worthwhile. His AAA numbers suggest a player that can sacrifice a little patience and power for a much higher batting average. His major league numbers suggest someone who could sacrifice a little batting average for much bigger pop. Is either of these more indicative of what he can do going foward?

It's easy to just ignore these two short stints and go with the AA and below minor league stats, (if you look at his projections - that is basically what we are seeing) but it's not like we're talking about years of numbers here. It's one even shorter stop in low A-ball that doesn't seem relevant at all, followed by 1 1/2 seasons worth of games (232 to be precise) all while moving up to harder competition than faced the year before. We haven't yet seen Danny get to "normalize" in a league playing there for 2+ years, getting used to the talent level in front of him. Contrast that with Ian Desmond who got to play parts of 3 years in each of A+ and AA ball.

All I'm saying is that I don't know.

I don't know what to expect from Danny Espinosa. He could watch his crazy power drop as teams figure out how to pitch him (see Ian Desmond again ) while he struggles to keep his batting average out of the .220s. He could, for the first time playing in the same league a 2nd year in a row, quickly get it and end up a ROY candidate, batting .270+ with pop. Twisting my arm I see both - I see a struggle of a 2011, with streaks of impressive play, that may even end up sending him back to AAA once or twice. The Ks just indicate a player who can be pitched to. At the same time I see real talent from his consistent ability to adapt to a higher level of talent every year, and I see a player who could very well bust out in 2012 and beyond.

Still like I said, I don't know, and I'm glad I don't know, because that means Danny Espinosa will be interesting to watch all season long.


Wally said...

Reasonable, but I think that I have a little bit of a different conclusion. I think that you can feel good about projecting his D, but the most likely projection on O is that he will struggle quite a bit. His minor league numbers aren't normally the kind that suggest that he is ready to start the year as the full time 2B, and then add in the hamate injury. The only reason that he is in that position now is the state of development of the Nats. I do not think that a team with real playoff aspirations would be giving him the job like this, unless the other 7 position guys were so stacked that they could carry his O. That isn't the Nats.

I like him as a prospect, I just think the plan should have been for him to spend the year at AAA. I also think that the failure to have a legit back up plan at 2B is a real big weak spot, and an unnecessary gamble by Rizzo.

Harper said...

So do you think this season will be worse than a struggle (with maybe a couple trips to AAA)? Like a full out <.200 type of year (at least to start)

The failure to have a legit back-up plan at 2B is a Nationals tradition.

Wally said...

Yeah. I hope not and they play the games because projecting performance is uncertain at best, but if I had to bet money now on what Espy will be like this year, I would take the under from last year's rate stats. I think that there is a real chance of a prolonged, gut wrenching ugly spell. I would probably feel this way anyway, but having the hamate removed in the offseason just cements it for me. Would happily eat crow on all of this.

I do find the lack of a plan B one of Rizzo's bigger (and more puzzling) mistakes. I mean, Espy has all of 150 games above A ball, and it wasn't like he did so well or was an Ackley type going in that you were looking to rush him through the minors. He was a decent prospect before 2010 who played pretty good and should have moved up the prospect ladder and been given a full year at AAA. My guess what really happened is that Rizzo expected to trade him or Desmond for a pitcher, but who he expected to play 2B, I still can't figure out.

Wally said...

Should have said 'last year's MLB rate stats'

adamvonblon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
adamvonblon said...

I believe Rizzo's plan all along was a sort of "Desmond-lite" call-up. Last year they threw Ian into the deep end and told him to go swim without any life jackets. This year the Nats FO is doing the same thing with Espinosa but they have a lifeguard on duty.

They will give Danny a very long leash but I think if his offense is absolutely atrocious and begins to hinder his development, enter Gonzalez and Hairston. Granted it's not the most capital of letter B's but it's still a plan nonetheless.

With that being said, what's the over/under on how many times Ray Knight says "adjustments" on his post-game show this season?

Harper said...

Wally - I wouldn't be surprised if that was idea - trade Espinosa. My guess is that Guzman back on minor league deal would have been the answer for 2010 with the hopes Lombardozzi forces a Sept appearence.

Vonblonnom - Yeah, I guess technically having a guy on the roster that can play 2nd base IS a plan b of some sort. Given the answers have been Anderson Hernandez, old Ronnie Belliard, and Adam Kennedy it's obviously not a priority for this team. Let's just all hope things work out for Danny Espinosa and we don't have to worry about it.

let's see about 10-15 per game so... 200,000,000 times?