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"Under-the-radar" Espinosa turning heads

Jun 1, 2011, 3:52 AM EDT

Associated Press photo
Danny Espinosa belted a pair of homers off Cliff Lee in the Nats’ 10-2 victory.

Jim Riggleman was talking up Danny Espinosa on Monday, after the rookie second baseman had homered off Roy Halladay to join teammate Jayson Werth as the Nationals’ top power hitters so far this season.

“As good as he’s playing,” Riggleman said, “we certainly haven’t seen the best of him yet.”

No, Espinosa saved that for Tuesday night, when he homered twice off Cliff Lee and drove in four runs to pace the Nationals during a 10-2 thumping of the Phillies and establish himself as the most productive rookie in the National League.

Check out the NL leaderboard for rookies. Espinosa’s name is all over the place. He’s now blasted 10 homers, twice as many as any other NL rookie. He’s got 33 RBI, more than any rookie in the majors. He’s racked up 83 total bases, again topping the list.

And the Nationals are only one-third of the way through their season, having played Game No. 54 on Tuesday. Take those numbers and multiply them by three. That’s what Espinosa is on pace to do as a 24-year-old rookie.

“He’s a good player,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “Definitely underrated, kind of under the radar.”

Espinosa won’t be under the radar for long if he keeps this up. He may
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  1. Grandstander - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:10 AM

    I think it's safe to say Espinosa has been "Weaver-esque." He's heating up at just the right time too with Morse raking and Werth starting to heat up. Desmond looked decent out there too and Bernadina can make things happen. Throw in Nix and you're starting to piece together a lineup. Replace Hairston with Zimmerman in a few weeks, and you might have something special.Tomorrow is the biggest game of the season in my opinion. Can you put 2 wins against the Phillies together, stop the bleeding and get back on track heading into a killer west coast road trip? Can you prove that offense is sustainable and not a fluke?We shall see…

  2. Andrew - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:39 AM

    I spoke to Danny after the game tonight. He had a huge smile. Very happy for him.His RH splits vs LH pitchers are crazy good.

  3. Andrew - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:50 AM

    Steve M. said… Mark, my question is, who do you see as your wild card for All Star for the Nats as I would say the favorites are 1) Storen 2) Marquis 3) LivoI am thinking Werth and Morse could get hot(ter) and get in the picture. Morse's number are getting very good on a small sample size although I think with Riggleman on the coaching staff would nix Morse's chance but if he can push that batting average over .300 and hit a few more HRs, he will be on the offensive leader boards. May 31, 2011 1:05 PM___________________________________Interesting discussion as it is now June 1st and at the 1/3 pole in the season.Put Espy on your wild card list too. Marquis pitched a great game and heck, he is hitting over .300Morse now is hitting over .300 too. How crazy would that be if Michael Morse stayed on this pace and was in the discussion as an All Star.

  4. Scooter - Jun 1, 2011 at 5:58 AM

    GPG + 3RHR = WAndrew, I think Morse sounds like an unlikely All-Star, if only because he would be competing against other first basepersons and outfielders. Compared to Pujols, Fielder, Holliday, and Braun (just to name two teams — how did that happen?), Morse's numbers and name recognition seem a bit wan.Enjoy the imagining, though; I know I will.

  5. Will - Jun 1, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    Actually, Morse has better offensive numbers than Pujols.Morse: .811 OPSPujols: .740 OPSBut Storen will get the nod. He's been one of the best closers in baseball this season.

  6. Will - Jun 1, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Also, on that note, Espinosa also as a higher OPS (.772) than Pujols.Espinosa has been the 5th best 2B this year with 1.8 WAR.

  7. Doc - Jun 1, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Some Nats Insider/saberguy needs to explain to me how SS Gonzalez and 2B Uggla of the phony tomahawk brigade have better RFs than our totally dynamic duo of Desi & Espi. Uggla over Espi particularly—c'mon give me a break, Uggla couldn't lace Danny's cleats!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's either a bogus stat, or somebody is paying off somebody!

  8. El Presidente of The Mickey Morse Fan Club - Jun 1, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    RE: Mickey MorseIt's time for ALaRoche to have his operation.Hey guys check out the range and glove work on that DP from Morse to Hairston to Morse!!!

  9. Doc - Jun 1, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    No about the cowardly scouts that rated 65 players ahead of Espi on the pre-season prospects' chart……..go suck rocks—-big ones!!!

  10. Navy Nats Fan - Jun 1, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Watch the replay again, El Presidente – it was even better – Morse to Hairston to Kimball! http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15404933

  11. masnstinks - Jun 1, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Tough road trip ahead – the hot D'Backs and the Giants – let's get some momentum going! Go Nats! Oh- and the All-Star Game is just a popularity contest so Pujols will definitely be in it and it will be a while until a Nat , other than Zim, gets in on the ballot. It's all about what market you are in and name-recognition, not how well you play.

  12. Big Cat - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Anyone ever think about making Espy a fulltime right handed hitter. Manassas….give me the stats….righty vs lefty for him.

  13. natsfan1a - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    We'd been out of town and I'd been Nat-less until last night (other than reading the box in the local paper). We picked up much of last night's game on the radio in between dead air spots as we drove home. Was nice to hear Charlie and Dave, as I tend to watch, and listen, on tv. (btw, I like that they retained the fireworks sound effect for the signature win call.) Even nicer to hear the Phillies get spanked! Just caught up a bit by reading Mark's posts (but not comments). Tip of the cap to the Z-Man for the detail on the Phoolies Phan exodus from the park, which wasn't mentioned on the broadcast that I heard. I was imagining it happening as I listened. :-)

  14. Anonymous8 - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    MLB Network reported that Danny Espinosa set the MLB Rookie record for 2nd basemen in HRs thru May 31st at 10 HRs.Also #1 ESPN Web Gem last night was Michael Morse/Jerry Hairston combo for their doubleplay on Ryan Howard.No Nats will be voted in to the All Star game so it will come down to a Manager's decision so Bruce Bochy with input from his staff which includes Riggleman will choose the lone Nat. Since Michael Morse can play outfield, he doesn't neccessarily have to be a 1st baseman. With that said, Marquis and Storen are still the favorites.

  15. natsfan1a - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    What with Riggleman on the National League side and Acta on the American League side, I'm thinking that the All-Star Game should look like old home night as far as Nats players. Or not. ;-)Oh, yeah, props to Werth on calling out Teddy, and his dismissive wave after the race loss that followed his comments (I'm thinking that part had to be staged). Teddy does really need to win, though… (True confessions: I did manage to read most of Mark's posts while I was away but not comments. Hehe.)

  16. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    Hey JayB…. It's June 1. What time today are they making the announcement you've been harping about for the past 6 weeks?

  17. El Presidente of The Mickey Morse Fan Club - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    @ Navy Nats Fan, 7:38Yea, you're right. I knew it, I was only just trying to squeeze out some more credit for Mickey Morse. I'll resign my presidentcy when Riggleman gives Morse some credit for his outstanding and exceptional 1B work.Kimball did well to get over there, and he did some good work over the 2 innings.

  18. natsfan1a - Jun 1, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    NatsJack, maybe they didn't get the memo. If memory serves, Acta was supposed to have been fired by the Indians last summer as well. Maybe he will be this summer, seeing as how the Tribe is doing so poorly this year. Oh, wait…

  19. natsfan1a - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    That said, if somebody's taking orders, I'll have what they're having (in Cleveland), or at least what they were having until recently. It's always a bad sign when the gamer headline reads: two Indians players reach second base.

  20. JayB - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    NJack,It will happen, not today, I am wrong…on the day…this team will be a much better team without Riggs…..just a matter of time. Do you really think Riggs helps the team. Is he the best manager available? Should the Lerners hire the best manager available?

  21. fpcsteve - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Well played, natsfan1a, well played indeed. And thanks, NatsJack for the timely reminder.

  22. JayB - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    1a…..you are also correct….it will be interesting to see what happens the rest of the way in Cleveland. Expectations are high and as we know from Nats Acta…after a strong start things went south very fast.

  23. fpcsteve - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Not if anyone is going to insist that Porter and/or Knorr are the best prospects available. Fact is, the coaching staff didn't change last night, just the results. The season is a marathon, not a sprint. Let them play the games and see what happens. Who knows, getting Zimmerman back might help. And what if Morse stays hot? And what if Nix is the real deal and the steal of the off season? And what if Espinosa just took off? Lots of "what if's". That is what makes it fun. Just a couple of thoughts…

  24. JamesFan - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    The Riggleman-Morse thing is puzzling. If you watch the Nats closely for the past two years, it is clear that Riggs does not promote or support Morse. He is one of those players who we will let go in a trade and he will be tearing up baseball long after Riggleman is gone from here. Morse's hit last night to keep the inning going and set the table for DE's shot was absolutely critical and probably the most important hit of the game.

  25. JayB - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    Porter and Knorr are the cheapest options….I said should the Lerners get the best manager, we know they always hire the cheapest.

  26. JamesFan - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I watched Porter in spring training and like him a lot. He's a leader. PS on Morse. His defense has been excellent. Right now, LaRoche should get his shoulder fixed and let's see how MM holds up at first over time. Hitting .300 and excellent D at 1st makes MM a great replacement for Dunn.

  27. Water23 - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    Been swamped but got a chance to go to Hagerstown for the Saturday double header (rainout makeup). I saw Harper play and now I see what Rizzo is talking about when he says he needs seasoning. In the OF, He had nice plays but then be out of position or make a bone-headed play. As to the plate, He did hit the fastball but had trouble it with some breaking balls. As the season progresses, he should get a better feel for everything.

  28. Knoxville Nat - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Riggleman's "Rapture Day" is upon us, or perhaps Harold Camping and JayB are one and the same???????????

  29. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 1, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    JayB…. I'm from the school that believes a manager is only as good as the players on his roster. I'm more into the overall organizalization approach and and I like what I've seen from the overall organization.While I agree that Riggleman will need to be replaced at some point, his style and demeanor is sufficient to handle this roster as made up by Rizzo. I firmly believe he will not be tendered the option that the team holds and is a dead man walking and will be replaced in the off season.

  30. JayB - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    Agreed on Riggs but not managers in general. I think they have a great deal to do with creating a winning culture of player accountability. The sooner they fire Riggs the better on that score. The Vets know he is toast as do you. It rubs off on the whole organization when you live a lie.

  31. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    JayB…If that were the case, Torre would have been successful in Atlanta, Showalter in Texas, and Pinella in Tampa.

  32. JayB - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    All those teams became very successful as they improved talent……in my view because of the culture of accountability those managers put in place. What legacy will almost 3 years of Riggs leave this team?

  33. JayB - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    we can both name lost of talented teams that under achieved, failed then cashed and burned. It is the culture with Talent that produces winning….not just talent.

  34. fpcsteve - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    JayB,I respect your opinion but respectfully disagree. If the players are giving less than their best because they think Riggleman will be fired, then they are a large part of the problem. Being professional means giving your best every day no matter what your job is or who your supervisor is. I want Riggleman's best effort. Ditto for Eckstein, et. al. But I want the players' best effort, too. That is what rubs me wrong about Werth. I want his best effort and example on the field, not cryptic comments to the press. Just a few thoughts…

  35. JayB - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Steve, We can all agree on what players should do…..this is a new age of players and it is all we got…..What Werth is saying is….we all know Riggs is toast so get us the real manager we are going to war with…not this guy who keeps bringing in H Rod and Bixler.

  36. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    And I see a team that maintains a solid competiveness considering the loss of Zimm, an unhealthy LaRoche, and a developing Espi and Ramos. All in all, Riggs has done a good job.

  37. Steve M. - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Knoxville Nat, you beat me to it after I read JayB's response. Clearly JayB is off his meds.Great game last night and a few un-clutch plays like Marquis's push bunt back to Cliff Lee in this case didn't cost the Nats. Now Bixler's bunt was a thing of beauty and very surprised Bernie didn't bunt at all and a drag bunt against the LH pitcher would have worked as I saw Utley playing back.What I liked about last night's game is in typical Nats fashion that 5-0 score was going to be eroded by generally no un-answered runs until the lead had evaporated and in a rare game (hopefully many more to follow) the offense got Marquis some more runs so that 5-2 lead grew.Did anybody see the play in the 8th inning when Bronco Zagurski gave up the double to Jayson Werth and Kimball scored easily and Bo Porter held up Ian Desmond at 3rd when he easily could have scored. Kimball gave the Nats a 10-2 lead. Would the 11th run been piling on? It cost Werth a much needed RBI so I wonder what he thought about it?

  38. Kavorka - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    This person is not surprisingly quiet today after saying this about the player mentioned in this article…UNTERP.NAT said…"Okay, I'm on board as saying Espinosa has no business in the ML right now as a hitter. In my eyes he has the worst swing for his size I have seen. If he doesn't cut down on that swing and began taking pitches where the pitcher locates them and chokes up on that bat, he will not survive. He is heading to sub .150 and that is not acceptable. He needs to change his entire approach at the plate or start a family. If he doesn't have a wife, he needs to get one and start making babies. Desmond needs to get going again, too…"ESPLOSION!

  39. Steve M. - Jun 1, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    JayB said… Steve, We can all agree on what players should do…..this is a new age of players and it is all we got…..What Werth is saying is….we all know Riggs is toast so get us the real manager we are going to war with…not this guy who keeps bringing in H Rod and Bixler. June 1, 2011 10:31 AM JayB, I think you were addressing the other Steve and I will chime in that here's the thing, none of us know what Werth was saying and Riggleman is not toast. I'm not sure Werth even knew what he was saying except clearly he is agitated by Teddy not winning and hope he takes it into his own hands to get Teddy to win! Personally, I take Bixler over Stairs any day of the week for this particular team. He is fast, can bunt, play some defense, and fits into "small ball" mentality and last night was an example of that. Bixler's perfect bunt single that started the big 5 run 3rd inning. Don't let the little things elude the bigger picture. If Bixler makes an out and Marquis makes an out, Cliff Lee gives up ZERO as Werth's flyout wouldn't have been a Sac Fly RBI.Bunt hits drive opposing teams crazy. Fast runners on 1st base drive opposing teams crazy. I think Bixler needs to be more of a pest when he gets on base. Honorable mention to Clippard for good relief and Morse/Hairston for that WebGem double-play.Now for Danny Espinosa who all of a sudden is becoming Mr. Clutch. The turn-around in his stats are amazing over the last 2 weeks. His BA with RISP is now .355 and his OBP with RISP is now .452 with a .903 Slugging %.Anonymous8 said… MLB Network reported that Danny Espinosa set the MLB Rookie record for 2nd basemen in HRs thru May 31st at 10 HRs.Espy's RH BA is now at .300 with a .357 OBP. The only unfortunate part is most of his at-bats are lefthanded where he is batting only .185 overall.

  40. Manassas Nats Fan - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Here you go Big VCatLeft handed 24 for 130 .185 1 2b, 4 3B 6 HR 23 RBIRight Handed15 for 50 .300 5 2B 0 3B 4 HR 10 RBII gave you bad info last night Going into last night he had 6 homers lefty two right. I thought it was reversed.

  41. Knoxville Nat - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Steve M,I also noticed Porter held up Desmond but if I'm not mistaken doesn't Desmond have a slight injury to one of his legs? Something like a thigh or calf muscle? I could easily be mistaken but I do know he was held out of one game against the Padres for aches and pains of some sort.BTW…did anyone besides me think that the Phillies pitcher Zagurski has a striking resemblence to John Kruk?

  42. erocks33 - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    I still think Espy needs to emulate Placido Polanco's approach at the plate (more so when Espy bats left-handed): choke up on the bat and just try and make contact. Don't try to hit a homer with each swing. Polanco is a pure joy to watch at the plate (even when it's against the Nats). His numbers are staggering with 2 outs and RISP (.393/.452/.429!) and even with 2 strikes on him he's up there battling (.274/.330/.345).This is the way young hitters should be approaching the dish …

  43. Steve M. - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Kavorka, he did bring up some good points when he wrote it and Danny has made some adjustments from the left side. What a difference going from May 15th at his bottom to last night.His clutch numbers are fantastic now and are in the tops of the league. Danny leads the Nats in HRs, RBIs, and 1 behind Werth for runs scored.So much weighting is put on BA/OBP as you have to move runners up, but you have to consider that it really is all about run producing and Espy is accomplishing that!!!!

  44. Steve M. - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Knoxville Nat said… Steve M,I also noticed Porter held up Desmond but if I'm not mistaken doesn't Desmond have a slight injury to one of his legs? Something like a thigh or calf muscle? I could easily be mistaken but I do know he was held out of one game against the Padres for aches and pains of some sort.June 1, 2011 11:04 AMI thought about the leg problem but he looked fine last night and stole a base last night. I am thinking Porter didn't want to run up the score or thought he didn't want to risk a potential play at the plate although I think Desmond would have cruised in. On another note, as I look at the game log, Desi drew 2 walks which raises his OBP to .270. Like Espinosa, Desmond's clutch numbers with RISP exceed his regular stats which is certainly a good thing.

  45. Knoxville Nat - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    Steve,I remember the steal but that came at a time when additional runs were necessary if I recall. I'm not so sure Desi would have cruised in as you suggested so perhaps Porter held him up thinking why chance risking further injury to his leg with an 8 run lead?

  46. Unkyd - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    YAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!! Back on the Board!!!! blogger wouldn't let me post, since LAST Tuesday….. Can you say jonesin'?! I so wanted to help back everyone from the ledge, against the Pads, and make a Joyful Noise, as we showed up, against two arch nemisis Aces, the last two nights. Now…. To get the freaking monkey off Lannan's back….. GO NATS!!!

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