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Danny Espinosa could solve the Nationals' second base problem

Twenty-four men had played second base for the Nationals before Danny Espinosa arrived in the major leagues this month, and none managed to claim the position with any particularly distinction. The days of revolving second basemen, it seems, are over. Espinosa has played in only 20 big leagues games, but given the anticipation that surrounded his promotion and the powerful beginning to his career, it already seems fair to believe Espinosa could stabilize the second base position for years to come.

Espinosa's arrival may solve a long-time problem for the Nationals. Despite a slump, he has an .834 OPS that owes mainly to his .562 slugging percentage, which is inflated by his six homers in just 73 at-bats. Since the Nationals started playing in 2005, their OPS from second basemen other than Espinosa is .693, which is better than only the Indians, Mets, Twins and Padres over that span.

If you aren't convinced second base has been a rough spot for the Nationals ever since baseball returned, this should suffice. Check out the full list of players, in order of most games played to fewest, who have appeared in at least one game at second in a Nationals uniform:

1. Ronnie Belliard
2. Jose Vidro
3. Felipe Lopez
4. Alberto Gonzalez
5. Adam Kennedy
6. Anderson Hernandez
7. Jamey Carroll
8. Cristian Guzman
9. Emilio Bonifacio
10. Willie Harris
11. Marlon Anderson
12. Bernie Castro
13. Pete Orr
14. Junior Spivey
15. Deivi Cruz
16. Damian Jackson
17. D'Angelo Jimenez
18. Carlos Baerga
19. Brendan Harris
20. Rick Short
21. Ian Desmond
22. Alex Cintron
23. Aaron Boone
24. Heny Mateo

By Adam Kilgore  | September 24, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
 
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Comments

Wow - that is quite a list!

I was wondering something earlier (continuing on the Espinosa optimism front). How does his call up stretch compare with some other talented second baggers in the division when they made their debuts...

Danny Espinosa
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/e/espinda01.shtml
Age 23
G 20 - AB 73 - Hits 17
Doubles 4 - HR 6 - RBI 15
AVG .233 - OBP .273
SLG .562 - OPS .834

Chase Utley (2003)
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?n1=utleych01&t=b&year=2003
Age 24
G 20 - AB 62 - Hits 15
Doubles 4 - HR 1 - RBI 8
AVG .242 - OBP .304
SLG .355 - OPS .659

Dan Uggla (2006)
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?n1=ugglada01&t=b&year=2006
Age 26
G 20 - AB 74 - Hits 21
Doubles 4 - HR 3 - RBI 10
AVG .284 - OBP .354
SLG .459 - OPS .813

Guess you can look at Martin Prado as well
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?n1=pradoma01&t=b&year=2006

Does this mean anything? Who knows - early days... I just wanted to play around in Baseball Reference for a few minutes :-)

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

WOW thats ugly!!!

Posted by: hansenjo | September 24, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Espinosa or Desmond. I think the Nats should be open to the idea of a switch. Whichever one is the better shortstop should get that job. I do look forward to seeing that double-play combination for years to come. The lineup is taking shape -- if Dunn comes back, the only real question marks are in the outfield. The pieces there may already be in the Nats' pipeline.

If they can ever get the pitching straightened out....

Posted by: fischy | September 24, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Carlos Baerga? At 2nd?? No wonder mere competence looks good to us Nats fans.

Posted by: softballgirl | September 24, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to play around in Baseball Reference for a few minutes :-)

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 12:50 PM
Y'know, I have a 1984 edition of The Baseball Encyclopedia here at home. I don't remember the last time I opened it.

Kinda sad, in a way, seeing something as venerable as TBE passing into obsolescence.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 24, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Right on, fischy! Rizzo, speaking on MASN last night, said it's not cast in concrete that Desmond is the shortstop and that competition is a good thing. Of course neither has shown he is a consistent hitter, something this team so badly needs.

Posted by: longhorn64 | September 24, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Right on, fischy! Rizzo, speaking on MASN last night, said it's not cast in concrete that Desmond is the shortstop and that competition is a good thing. Of course neither has shown he is a consistent hitter, something this team so badly needs.

Posted by: longhorn64 | September 24, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The horror....the horror.

Posted by: joemktg1 | September 24, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"Does this mean anything?"

Yes, it means their numbers were significantly better than his. Forget about .SLG and .OPS, they're useless in a sample containing this few at bats. Look at the terrible BA, the pathetic OBP, and consider the following:

He has 21 Ks in 73 at bats, he's drawn 4 walks. He has huge problems with RH pitching. Take away his hot streak in his 1st few games, and his BA is well under .200.

Did you really have to ask?

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I really miss Rick Short. Was so happy in '05 when he finally got his first AB in the majors, then happier when they called him up in Sept that year. Thought he'd get a fair shot at 2B that month (or at the very least be the utility player/pinch hitting specialist each team needs), but then he separated his shoulder making a diving stop and that was it for him. Still ticked off at Bowden for selling him to Japan that off season.

VERY limited time on the Nats:
15 AB: .400/.471/.933/1.404 OPS (that's not a typo!)

Career Minor Leagues (incl Japan):
5230 AB: .319/.375/.448/.823 OPS

Could play 1B, 2B, 3B, OF -- granted none of them superbly, but for a game here or there he'd have sufficed.

Posted by: erocks33 | September 24, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Did you really have to ask?

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 1:30 PM

Did someone poopy mcpoop in your cornflakes this morning?

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"Forget about .SLG and .OPS, they're useless in a sample containing this few at bats. Look at the terrible BA, the pathetic OBP"

BA and OBP are just as useless in a sample containing so few at bats. And are you so stupid that you don't know that OBP (something you seem to think is important) makes up half of OPS (something you say is useless)?

Posted by: FeelWood | September 24, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

i'm hoping espinosa puts up brandon phillips type numbers.

Posted by: longterm | September 24, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I love it when people crunch the numbers yet never seem to watch these guys play.

Posted by: seanmg | September 24, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

after so few at-bats, and those in September, all you can say is "so far, so good." Frank Robinson went something like 0-26 after his first game. Literally zero predictive value there, but it's fun to watch the kid play ball.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 24, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

(fiving sean)

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 24, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I was almost half expecting to see one of us listed there ...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 24, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Nope. You're wrong. Espinosa's record to date is comparable to Utley's, and not just over 20 games.

Here are the minor league comparables:

Age 21, both in the Class A NY-Penn League:

Utley 175 plate appearances, 827 OPS, 18 BB
Espinosa 87 PA, 836 OPS, 17 BB

Age 22, both in full-season Class A:

Utley 523 PA, 746 OPS, 37 BB
Espinosa 576 PA, 834 OPS, 74 BB

Age 23:

Utley in AAA--534 PA, 813 OPS, 46 BB
Espinosa in AA--434 PA, 798 OPS, 33 BB
Espinosa in AAA---108P A, 812 OPS, 8 BB

This doesn't prove Danny Espinosa will be as good as Chase Utley, but it wouldn't be surprising if he was. Utley had 3 walks in his first 21 major league games. Espinosa has 4.

Kev29: Thanks for the good work. Utley is a great comparable. Uggla was a Rule 5 draftee with some power who reached the majors at 26. If Espinosa is that good at 23, we're in for a treat.

----
"Does this mean anything?"

Yes, it means their numbers were significantly better than his. Forget about .SLG and .OPS, they're useless in a sample containing this few at bats. Look at the terrible BA, the pathetic OBP, and consider the following:

He has 21 Ks in 73 at bats, he's drawn 4 walks. He has huge problems with RH pitching. Take away his hot streak in his 1st few games, and his BA is well under .200.

Did you really have to ask?

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 1:30 PM

Posted by: chiefwj | September 24, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Kev29 - I have absolutely NO idea how to play around on Baseball Reference "for a few minutes"

Any time I go looking for one thing, I end up finding something else that grabs my eye and then three hours later......ya know?

Also laughing at the poopy reference :)

Posted by: RPrecupjr | September 24, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Sure is fun reading all the Natinal fans comments today.

With what everyone's saying you'd think the Natinals are one of the most ineptly run organizations in baseball.

Hold on phones folks, someone on the other line telling me........Oh so the Natinals ARE a poorly run organization. Oh.............

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 24, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget about Espinosa's outstanding defense, which probably can be assessed since his call-up and which will contribute far more to the improvement of the Nats than his offense. If he can give us good at bats, that will just be icing on the cake.

Posted by: thelonghaul | September 24, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

It's also funny reading some of these rubes using various numbers to try to decipher whether or not certain Natinal players will ever amount to anything.

I think it was Homer who said it best, "Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that."

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 24, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Yes, downplay the stats that look good for your argument and emphasize the ones that help you. Works for me every time.

(Kind of like calling others "rubes" when they do it, and then using a hot streak for a baseball team to decide they're now on the road to greatness, or something. But I digress...)

Espinosa has big league level skills. Are they actually ready for the big leagues, especially on a fulltime basis? Probably close enough to warrant a long look next spring, especially factoring in his defense, which will keep him in the lineup during slumps.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 24, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that the troll has nothing to say about his club going down to four games behind the NATS or its current 1 games loss (soon to be more?)streak but is, instead, reduced to making jibes that are not only off point but make no sense what so ever. Maybe he will have more to say after the Birds lose their weekend serie s while the NATS dash the Choppers hopes by taking two out three again
@Fairfax 6

You got to be kidding, right??

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | September 24, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Well adhardwick I would bring up the O's being 4 game sback if they were. But of course it looks like you are not good at math since the O's are only 3.5 games back.

But, if beating the O's (in terms of record) is all that important this year to Natinal fans, well that's really pathetic.

See, the O's were on pace to lose close to 110-120 games the year. They won't even lose a hundred. So while the O's have turned it on the past 2 months, the Natinals have turned it off, as usual.

Oh and baltova1 I like how you call 2 months of spectacular baseball a "hot streak."

Natinal fans would wet themselves, sell their first born for a "hot streak" that lasted that long.

Oh and the Natinals will still end the season with a worse record than the Orioles.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 24, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

And lord knows how many people the Natinals won't have coming to their games next year.

The O's are ending on a high-note, sending a signal to their fans (and all of MLB) that they're a force to be reckoned with for the next few years.

The Natinals....well they're finishing the season like they always do, looking ahead to their tee-times. Plus Strasburg won't be around next year so attendance will continue to plummet. They'll be lucky to draw 1.5 million next year. That's how bad the Natinals and their franchise are.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 24, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I really want Espinosa to be the second baseman for a long time. But weren't Belliard, Lopez, Gonzalez, Hernandez, Bonifacio, and Kennedy supposed to be the answers to stabilize second base? Espinosa has great bat speed and good defense, but really, I'm pretty cynical about the next "solution" at second, or any other position, for that matter.

Posted by: BShea821 | September 24, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Here's a comparable list from Bill Simmons:

"Did you know Seneca is the 15th quarterback Cleveland has started since it re-entered the league in 1999? The complete list (in order of appearance as a starter):"

Ty Detmer
Tim Couch
Doug Pederson
Spergon Wynn
Kelly Holcomb
Jeff Garcia
Luke McCown
Trent Dilfer
Charlie Frye
Derek Anderson
Brady Quinn
Ken Dorsey
Bruce Gradkowski
Jake Delhomme
Seneca Wallace

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. So many bad memories in that list.

Posted by: p_chuck | September 24, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to play around in Baseball Reference for a few minutes :-)

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 12:50 PM
"Y'know, I have a 1984 edition of The Baseball Encyclopedia here at home. I don't remember the last time I opened it.

Kinda sad, in a way, seeing something as venerable as TBE passing into obsolescence.

Posted by: gilbertbp"

=============================

My dad bought me my first "The Baseball Encyclopedia" in 1970 and if memory serves, it was the very first ever printed.

It cost $13.95 which is about $80.00 in today's money. I treated it with care for years as I went back through it and made my own trades and followed then unknown players through their careers.

I still have it, but baseball-reference.com has replaced its use.

But without that book, I wouldn't know who Del Ennis was. Or Don Lock. Or .....

Posted by: rushfari | September 24, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Jose Vidro was the 2B for 10 years, 8 years Montreal and 2 in Washington and in 2006 was 2nd in fielding with .990.

Posted by: rdexposfan | September 25, 2010 1:25 AM | Report abuse

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