Danny Espinosa - Age 24 - MLB Service Time 1.033 years
How he became a Nat: Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 First Year Player Draft
The Raw Numbers:
Games - 158
AVG - .236
HR - 21
RBI - 66
K% - 25.2
UZR - 1.0
WAR - 3.5
Key Stat: wOBA .325. Danny had the 4th highest wOBA on the Nats behind power hitters Morse, Zimmerman, and Ramos - and he did it as a 6'0" 190lbs 2nd baseman. A power hitting 2nd baseman is extraordinarily rare, especially when you can combine it with stellar up-the-middle defense. Espi has the potential to be a very special player for many years to come. This is also the 3rd highest wOBA of all NL 2nd Basemen.
Best Game: June 16th vs the Red Birds. Espinosa gave his team the chance to win this game not once, but twice. In the 4th he hit a rockets single to RF to score Michael Morse to give the Nats a lead they wouldn't relinquish until a Drew Storen blown save. Always one to pick up his players, in the 10th he came up with 2 ducks on the pond and crushed one out of the park against Fernando Salas to give the Nats a 7-4 walk-off win. He went 3 for 5 on the day with a homer and 4 RBIs.
Worst Game: September 5th against the Dodgers. This is a game that the Nats were able to win 7-2 despite Espinosa's best efforts to the contrary. In the first inning Desmond, Morse, and Werth all hit home runs - Danny struck out. The day went downhill from there as Danny added 3 more strikeouts to give him a Golden Sombrero for the day - all swinging K's so at least he wasn't just standing there. It was an 0 for 4 performance where he picked up his 13th fielding error - definitely a day to forget.
CapBall Grade: We are choosing to give Danny a B. The Nationals have found a player that will be a key piece for at least the next 5 years - a player that can hit for some power, fire up the team, and play stellar defense. But right now he is simply striking out way too much for a player that is just 24 years old. That, coupled with his 2nd half slump (122 OPS+ in the 1st half, 82 OPS+ in the 2nd half) bumped his grade down to a B.
2012 Nats Status: Danny will be in the starting lineup come Opening Day; barring injury of course. He will be the Nats 2nd baseman for years to come, unless the team is to trade Ian Desmond - in which case he will be the starting SS. If he can reduce his K% to the 20-21% range that he was in the minors then he should have an even better Sophomore campaign.