Danny Espinosa can still make a fantasy baseball impact

      April 4, 2014 @ 10:07:30 PDT

Week 1 of the baseball season is chock full of surprises and hot starts from names you'd never expect. Emilio Bonifacio and Alejandro De Aza are fantasy MVPs right now. Crazy, huh.

Washington Nationals 2B Danny Espinosa
More useful as utility player

Small sample sizes lead to knee-jerk reactions. Regression usually wins the day in the end. But that's what makes fantasy baseball great. Add another name to the list: Danny Espinosa.

This guy's power/speed combo was intriguing as your starting 2B just a few seasons ago. But his low contact rate and low batting averages were his Achilles' heel. He tried to fight through a wrist injury last season, but he couldn't, and things fell apart quickly.

After a .158/.272/.465 slash line in 167 plate appearances in 2013 and a demotion to the minors, it looked like Espinosa was finished. Anthony Rendon surfaced as a hot prospect last season and has emerged as the starter at the keystone. With Ryan Zimmerman at third, there was no longer room for Espinosa in the infield.

Oh well. Espinosa has moved on. He's focusing on his approach; a new calm, controlled presence at the plate that has him focused on cutting down on his strikeouts. Yes, I know he's only had six plate appearances in two games this year, but when I saw him rope two doubles off Zack Wheeler yesterday, I saw the Espinosa of old, not the 2013 version.

Rendon is the starter at 2B, but Espinosa will have his opportunities. I'm encouraged, and so is new skipper Matt Williams: Hes obviously one of the best defenders in the game at second, and maybe even short if he can play there. He brings some speed. He can steal bases. With the approach he has now and the at-bats hes had so far in spring, hes a dangerous person to have on your team.

The fact that Espinosa received the start at second in just the third game of the year Thursday is further proof that Williams wants to keep him involved regularly. He's the club's utility infielder, and if an injury opens up more playing time, this guy can be a real asset, not just in NL-only leagues.

Who knows, maybe he'll wind up seeing time at third base, too, if Zimmerman continues to struggle with his throws or shoulder issues crop up again. Double digits in homers is entirely possible, and Espinosa has the wheels to contribute nicely in steals, as well, as sneaky middle infield depth.

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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