Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

How long before Espinosa is benched?


Espinosa is still great in the field ... but struggling at the plate. Photo AP via

I’m not the only one tolling this bell right now.  Nats beat reporters Dave Nichols posted today on the same topic.  Despite being annointed the starting 2nd baseman, and for a while last year while Ian Desmond struggled serving as the shortstop in waiting, Danny Espinosa is really struggling to start off 2012.   He’s posting a 49 OPS+ right now, with a .188 batting average and (as Nichols points out), an alarming number of strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Steve Lombardozzi is more than ably filling in defensively at 3rd but is a natural 2nd baseman and is getting on base at a .383 clip.  He’s also batting nearly .300 (two 0-fers in Los Angeles dropped his BA below the .300 margin).  Sounds to me like a prototypical lead-off hitter, doesn’t it?

I’ve often used this mantra when complaining about Roger Bernadina‘s continued presence on the lineup: after more than 900 MLB plate appearances, isn’t it safe to say we know what his performance will be?  Well, Espinosa now has nearly as many PAs as Bernadina and seems regressing by the day.  His OPS+ is still decent for his career on account of his 21 homers last season.  But he’s only hit one so far this year and as a result the slugging component of his OPS and OPS+ has drug him down to below replacement level.

Most have noticed his severly bad switch-hitter splits from 2011; clear evidence that he may consider giving up switch hitting and just batting from the right-side.  Of course, its awful hard to do that after you’ve been switch hitting your entire life.

With our #3 and #4 hitters on the DL, and with the team ranked in the bottom 3 in MLB in most offensive categories right now … how long before the team makes a move and benches Espinosa in favor of Lombardozzi?  I like Espinosa; have always defended him.  And after watching Lombardozzi look absolutely lost at the plate last fall, I never thought i’d be saying this so quickly.  But he looks good, Espinosa does not, and the team needs to give itself the best chance to win and score runs.  They can’t win games 3-2 every night.

Written by Todd Boss

May 3rd, 2012 at 4:26 pm

12 Responses to 'How long before Espinosa is benched?'

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  1. Meantime 2B Kobernus is tearing up AA for Harrisburg. How soon before he goes to Syracuse for a final test?

    Sec 314

    3 May 12 at 5:51 pm

  2. Yeah, i tell you its great to see him finally putting some offense on the board. Lots of SBs too; prototypical leadoff-middle infielder type. There’s not much blocking him either; a 29-yr old minor league free agent in Hoffpauir playing there now.

    Todd Boss

    3 May 12 at 7:29 pm

  3. I would guess that Danny likely just has this weekend series to break out of it, assuming Zim comes back on Tuesday. After that, at the VERY least he and Lombo should be platooning with Lombo getting the starts against lefties.


    4 May 12 at 7:25 am

  4. Don’t expect any big promotions for a couple more weeks. Rizzo’s made it pretty clear he likes to let guys show extended performance before a promotion, and typically likes a guy to show that performance by going through their respective league at least twice to see how they handle the adjustments the pitchers make.

    Todd: any chance you can add a “subscribe to comments” feature?


    4 May 12 at 8:17 am

  5. I never thought I’d be writing this, but I agree that Danny needs to be sent down. All offseason I just assumed Desmond would be the infielder looking over his shoulder at Lombardozzi and Rendon, but Espinosa looks lost out there.


    4 May 12 at 10:43 am

  6. I would if i knew how to do that :-) This is generic wordpress so I’m assuming you can. I’ll do research.

    Todd Boss

    4 May 12 at 11:36 am

  7. There’s a plugin that can enable this. Can’t do it during the day but I’ll get on it.

    Todd Boss

    4 May 12 at 11:37 am

  8. Was thinking; when Zimmerman comes back what do you do with the lineup? Assuming Espinosa keeps his spot i think it goes Desmond-Werth-LaRoche-Zimmerman-Harper-Ankiel-Ramos-Espinosa … the team now has a need to balance lefty-righty in the middle of the order. If you go werth-zimmerman-laroche-harper in 2-3-4-5 you have R-R-L-L … but I don’t know how else the lineup makes sense. You don’t want to put Werth 6th but I think you have to keep Zimmerman, LaRoche and Harper in the 3-4-5 combo somehow.

    Now, if Espinosa is sat, Lobardozzi’s switch hitting prowness helps out and he stays in the 2 hole. now you’re going Desmond-Lombardozzi-Zimmerman-LaRoche-Werth-Harper? Do you drop Werth to 6th?

    Honestly Lombardozzi needs to lead off … but Desmond has been performing well in leadoff. If you don’t have Desmond at 1st, he drops to 6th. The lineup that makes most sense right now is Lomb-Werth-Harper-LaRoche-Zimmerman-Desmond-Ramos-Ankiel.

    Todd Boss

    4 May 12 at 11:41 am

  9. I have to say, I agree with everything written here. I think Espy’s future is bright but he needs some stress free AB’s in Syracuse.

    Mark L

    5 May 12 at 7:28 am

  10. Lombo, as a switch-hitting slick infielder, is the logical replacement for Espy, who looks clueless at the plate and has been really hurting the team with his high strikeout count. This team badly needs offense; they cannot rely on great starting pitching every night.


    9 May 12 at 9:56 am

  11. You guys are morons, because now Espinosa is heating up and this article is not only outdated, it’s wrong. You need to put confidence in your players before they begin to respond. Davey Johnson knows this, which is why he talks about it every time his players have a bad day. Quite honestly with Espinosa and Lombardozzi, with H-Rod, with Detwiler and Wang, if you don’t think Davey Johnson knows exactly what he’s doing, you’re an idiot.

    Nats Fan

    28 May 12 at 2:14 pm

  12. Well, considering that this was published on May 3rd, yeah it is outdated.

    Todd Boss

    28 May 12 at 7:05 pm

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