Danny Espinosa is having, by almost any measure, a terrible season at the plate. Through 165 PAs (roughly 1/4 of a full season) he’s hitting .214/.294/.338, which are pretty horrible numbers in all three categories. But the fact is, it’s still a small sample size. The numbers alone shouldn’t be an excuse to sit him, because it doesn’t tell the whole story. And the whole story is a bit more interesting, as he has done much better in May than he did in April.
Start playing the arbitrary endpoints game with Espinosa, and you can recognize that he his hitting much better in the last few weeks. If you go back to May 4, Danny is hitting .263/.323/.491 in 63 PAs – as the season started on April 5, this is more or less removing his first month of play. If he hits this well for the rest of the season, he will most likely have a better final line than his middle infield counterpart, Ian Desmond, who is hitting .275/.296/.456 right now after a torrid start. Now that’s not a slight on Desmond, who has really contributed this year. (In fact, Desmond’s OBP is low, but his line is great for his position. As a whole, shortstops are hitting .253/.307/.365 this year). But it does highlight what Espinosa might be able to do compared with Desmond’s best.
This was something I mentioned just 11 days ago, when I saw on MLB Network’s evening run down of the games an interview with Robinson Cano. Cano had raised his OPS from .657 to .767 in the span of 4 days – he’s now up to hitting .309/.362/.481, almost normal for him. His reason for the improvement? “Luck”. That was all. It’s still early, and after seeing that I said:
So if Espinosa has a similar 4 days to Cano, he’d be at .222/.304/.327.
Sure it’s taken him 9 starts not 4, but he’s raised his numbers to just about that. If he continues to do what he’s been doing for the last 2 weeks or so, he’ll be right back to where people expected him to be. And of course, we could play arbitrary endpoints with Desmond as well and find a run where he looks better in the OBP category, but the point remains – Espinosa is far from lost anymore. His hot streak is current, and if you go back only a little bit less – to May 9 – he’s hitting .279/.326/.581 in his last 46 PAs. It probably wouldn’t even be worth noting his .971 OPS in his last 10 games, as that’s just too short a timeframe, right? Well, either way, he looks to be back to his old self for the moment, and with both Danny and Desi hitting, this middle infield quickly shows off how it is a formidable part of this team’s success.