Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
This photo of Danny Espinosa in a Nationals' uniform may soon be a collector's item.
The Nationals have a jumbo-sized elephant in their room: What to do at second base?
Rookie Anthony Rendon has played the position with aplomb. His natural affinity for a foreign position, along with his sweet swing, have brought a swift and sudden end to his minor league career.
Through 74 games this season, Rendon is batting .259 in 278 at-bats with 20 doubles and six home runs, to go with 26 RBI and 31 runs scored. He has 23 walks and 55 strikeouts with a .316 on-base percentage and .396 slugging percentage. Rendon has one stolen base in two attempts.
Jack-of-all-trades Steve Lombardozzi fills in at second base when needed and is good enough to play that position every day, even if not for the Nationals.
In 237 at-bats over 94 games, Lombardozzi is batting .253 with 13 doubles, one triple and one home run while totaling 17 RBI and 23 runs scored. Lombardozzi has walked six times while striking out 29 times and has compiled an on-base percentage of .268 with a slugging percentage of .329. He has three stolen bases in six attempts.
So where does Danny Espinosa fit in?
Espinosa has been with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs for 68 games, according to MiLB.com. In 254 at-bats, Espinosa is hitting .201 with 11 doubles, one triple and two home runs while driving in 17 runs and scoring 29 runs. He has only 18 walks against 96 strikeouts, leading to a .268 on-base percentage to go with a .276 slugging percentage. Espinosa has five stolen bases in six attempts.
Not exactly the progress Davey Johnson was hoping for when Espinosa was sent down.
The Nationals' manager spoke to James Wagner of The Washington Post on Aug. 21 about the possibility of Espinosa being promoted as part of the September call-ups:
There have been discussions on that and right now we’re trying to get him back on track. It’s also a reward system when you get called back up. It’s a reward on how you did down there, and he’s not doing the things I know he’s capable of doing. But there’s still a little time left. Just have to wait and see.
If Espinosa cannot even earn a September call-up with the Nationals, then his days in Washington are probably numbered.