Danny Espinosa has been a Revelation in his short time with the Nationals. In just about a month as a major leaguer Espinosa has 11 extra-base hits and 15 RBI, while playing near-flawless defense at second base. If everything goes according to plan, Espinosa will take his place next to Ian Desmond as the Nats' middle infield of the future.
According to Tom Boswell, Espinosa's college coach compares him favorably to two current MLB All Stars he also coached, Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitski; which is pretty darn good company.
But as good as he has been individually, Espinosa's greatest impact on the club might be the positive impact he could have on Ian Desmond's career.
Danny Espinosa went through the minor leagues as shortstop, only playing second base when he was playing at the same level as Desmond who was considered the organization's shortstop of the future. But while Desmond has shown flashes of being able to play defense at shortstop, his inconsistency has been what has defined him at the position. As Boswell points out, Espinosa might be the cure for all that.
Since Espinosa was called up, he has transformed a whole chunk of the Nats' future. In a sense, he isn't just one player: he's two. Because Espinosa is so good defensively at either shortstop or second base, it means Desmond, a team leader and a .300 hitter since he was moved to No. 2 in the batting order, will probably not have his career derailed by those 35 errors he has made this year.
"Desmond is going to be our shortstop," (Nats manager Jim) Riggleman said flatly this week.
But if he isn't - if he can't learn the knack of charging grounders so he gets the easy short hop, rather than the tough in-between hop, if his hands stay nervous and his arm is scattershot - then he can do what many a rangy but erratic shortstop has done in the past: move his athleticism, his bat and his remarkable range to second base, where everything moves a beat slower.
Desmond is still considered the shortstop of the future, but with two players on the roster who could potentially play there long term, he might just have to consider himself part of the greater, and more general future. The Nats have two guys that can play both of the middle infield positions, and be above average hitters. Time will tell where they ultimately settle, and what position they will play, but it's an enviable position for the club to be in.