Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa feels like he might have something going here. With a pair of homers Tuesday night in a 10-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, Espinosa now has the team lead and a career-high 10 home runs on the season.
Espinosa has hit the three total round trippers in the series against pitchers named Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. And with four homers in the past five games, Espinosa senses he is in a groove at the plate.
It is no fluke.
Last season, Espinosa smacked six homers in 103 at-bats (HR every 17.2 AB). This season, a similar rate, with 10 homers in his first 180 at-bats (HR every 18 AB).
“I feel good,” Espinosa said. “I have felt good for the last two weeks or so. Things just weren’t going my way. I thought I was hitting some balls hard and then things started to fall in a little bit.”
Espinosa has now hit home runs in back-to-back games against the Phillies, but doesn’t consider himself a power hitter. Well, with 10 homers in his first 54 games, he is now on pace to hit 30 home runs this season. I think the Nationals would take a “non”-power hitter like that in a season where they are having trouble scoring runs.
“I don’t go up there thinking I am a power hitter,” Espinosa said. “Like I said yesterday, home runs just come in bunches. When you start hitting another one you get four or five in a row.”
His teammates notice there is something special about this player.
Right fielder Jayson Werth talked about Espinosa hailing from the shortstop factory in Long Beach State, which has produced major league players like Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria and Bobby Crosby.
“He is a ballplayer,” Werth said. “He really is. He went to a college program that was all about baseball. They played the game the right way. They had some really good players come out of there. Hopefully, he will be another one. He is a good kid. He plays the game right. He plays the game hard. He brings it every day. You can’t ask for any more out of him.”
Manager Jim Riggleman also sees the pieces starting to fit together in Espinosa’s game. Riggleman reasons if Espinosa can bat for average as a switch-hitter, then the Nationals would have a complete weapon, because he has certainly shown all the tools defensively.
“He is an electric player,” Riggleman said. “He is a strong kid. His movements are kind of powerful. He can do it all. He can run. He has got a great arm. He can catch the ball. He has power from both sides of the plate. He is going to be a tremendous player as the left-handed side catches up to the right-handed side.”