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.