Could Lombardozzi replace Espinosa at 2nd

Danny Espinosa is not having a good year at bat playing second base. Batting .177 with an OBP around .200 is ugly to watch.  His below average bat has always been countered by his power potential and above average glove.  This year the two don’t average out.  Its could be that he is not the player he appeared to be coming up through the Nationals farm system and his rookie year.  There is also the very good chance that his torn rotator cuff is impacting him to the point that he needs surgery.  The only reason to have Espinosa in the lineup is his glove.

Here is the thing to know about Espinosa.  For the last two  years, he is the seventh best second baseman in the MLB according to WAR.  Despite the fact he is a bellow average hitter, he was the second best 2nd baseman in the field to Darwin Barney of the Gold Glove winner from the Cubs.

# Name Team WAR Dollars
1 Robinson Cano Yankees 13.1 $58.90
2 Ben Zobrist Rays 12.1 $54.40
3 Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 11.9 $53.30
4 Ian Kinsler Rangers 10.2 $45.70
5 Brandon Phillips Reds 9.2 $41.50
6 Howie Kendrick Angels 8.6 $38.90
7 Danny Espinosa Nationals 6.6 $29.60

Which brings us to Lombardozzi.  Coming up through the minors he was a lead off hitter.  He was more a hit your way on OBP guy than a take a walk guy.  One could argue that this line up needs guys on base more than guys who can clean up the bases.  As noted yesterday:

But, can Lombardozzi’s glove plus OBP improve the Nats this year if Espinosa is shut down for injury or performance.  Here are the the fielding stats so far this year.

# Name Inn Plays UZR UZR/150
1 Danny Espinosa 292 70 2.2 10.6
1 Steve Lombardozzi 70 21 0.5 15.8

In a smaller sample size, Lombo is performing as good if not better than Espinosa at 2nd.   This should not be a surprise, he has a reputation as an outstanding fielder.  He won the Minor League Gold Glove in 2011.

2011 MILB RAWLINGS GOLD GLOVE AWARD WINNERS

Position Name Club(s) MLB Organization
P Craig Westcott San Jose San Francisco
C Tucker Barnhart Dayton Cincinnati
1B Efren Navarro Salt Lake Los Angeles (AL)
2B Steve Lombardozzi Harrisburg and Syracuse Washington
SS Darwin Perez Arkansas Los Angeles (AL)
3B Brandon Laird Scranton/Wilkes-Barre New York (AL)
LF Austin Krum Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre New York (AL)
CF Jordan Danks Charlotte Chicago (AL)
RF Cole Gillespie Reno Arizona
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