A slow offensive start to the season left Danny Espinosa frustrated and “nervous” about being sent down to the minors.
He’d stew over poor individual performances, letting his ultra-competitive streak get the better of him at times. He’d watch tape of countless subpar at-bats, critiquing every minor error, likely putting more pressure on himself in the process.
Lately, Espinosa has changed his ways. He rarely ever goes into the video room unless it’s for an offensive meeting before a series. When he does watch film, Espinosa only watches positive at-bats, hoping to refresh his memory that he’s “capable of doing great things.”
Perhaps as a result, Espinosa is in a good place at the plate right now, both when he’s hitting right-handed (his stronger side) and from the left side of the plate, as well.
“I’ve been feeling good,” Espinosa said. “I feel confident, I feel relaxed.”
It’s certainly showing. Through the first seven games of the Nationals’ current homestand, Espinosa is batting .444 (12-for-27) with two homers, three doubles, four RBIs and two walks.
Thanks in part to that recent hot streak, but also his strong play for much of the last few months, Espinosa’s batting average is up to .258, the highest it’s been all season.
That’s clearly not a batting average which will leave Espinosa among league leaders, but when you consider Espinosa was hitting .226 on July 1, it’s obvious he’s made strides in the right direction.
When looking at Espinosa’s batting average, you also have to look at his power numbers. He now has 16 home runs (tied for fourth-most among major league second basemen), 32 doubles (sixth-most among MLB second basemen) and 50 RBIs, and gives the Nationals a legitimate power presence out of the No. 7 spot in the order.
Espinosa admits his struggles at the beginning of the season were tough to deal with, largely because he’s a young player who had yet to truly prove himself at the major league level. But he’s regrouped, knowing that a strong finish can still leave him with a 2012 season to be proud of.
“The way I look at it is, the first month of the season everybody gets excited if you’re hitting .400 or whatever,” he says. “But 100 at-bats, if you go 4-for-4 or 0-for-4, your average can dip 40 points. You’re basically getting 100 at-bats every month for six months. The first is just as important as the last, because in the end it’s going to be the same amount to your average.
“I fell into a little bit of looking too much at my numbers in the first half, and I’ve just gone out and played since.”