Ryan Zimmerman getting hurt and going on the DL was a potential huge blow to the Nats early season attempt to keep pace with the ridiculous Braves. He was off to fantastic start to the year. In 10 games he was able to post a .5 WAR, which is a Mike Trout type pace, despite picking up a few errors for erratic defense. Zim still leads the Nats in wOBA and batting average for guys with over 30 ABs.
The shuffle that occurred when he went on the DL: Rendon moving to 3rd and Espinosa assuming the full time position at 2nd equates to substituting Espi’s bat for Zim’s. Lets see how that is going.
ZiPs projection system had a pretty good year for Zimmerman, not the torrid pace he was on, but a real solid year. Below are the numbers Zim was forecasted to get compared to what Espinosa has put up so far this year.
As you can see, Danny has done a real good job at replicating Zim’s projected numbers. Espi walks less and strikes out more, but his higher batting average assisted by his league leading bunt base hits gives them identical OBPs. When it come to power numbers Espi has a slight advantage. The biggest upgrade seems to be in the WAR department where, Espinosa’s speed, defense and position combine to a slight upgrade over Zim’s projection.
Long term, it is hard to think that Espinosa will replicate Zim’s offensive production, because one player has consistent track record and one is coming off a year where his was the worst hitter in MLB. So far this year, the Renaissance of Danny Espinosa has kept the Nats on pace to have the 92+ win year many thought they would.