There is one huge flaw that is keeping Danny Espinosa from reaching the upper echelon of middle infielders in fantasy baseball, an enormous strikeout rate. While the strikeout rate is unlikely to come down, Espinosa can still be a rather useful fantasy player. His dual eligibility at both middle infield spots makes him extra valuable, but it is nice to see that we can pretty much expect what type of player he is for the foreseeable future.
With a mix of power and speed that put him past the 20 home run mark last year and has him expected to land above the 20 steal mark this year, Espinosa becomes an intriguing option in keeper leagues. While much of the fantasy season’s roster decisions have already been made, there are still implications for the future and two very similar seasons out of Espinosa gives an owner confidence that he can again repeat this type of performance next season.
His walk rate declining and his strikeout rate further increasing is certainly concerning, as is his .330 BABIP compared to his .292 mark last season, but for the most part he has been a very similar player. In the real life game, a ~100 wRC+ out of a middle infield spot is impressive, but usually that does not make one a fantasy starter. Espinosa, though he has lacked a respectable average both years, is rightfully owned in 68% of Yahoo! leagues due to the two big categories — the homers and steals. In the future, I doubt that he becomes a 25-25 type guy, but it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. At just 25-years-old, if he is going to reach that level of power then he is going to do it relatively soon. Valuing him as a late round acquisition rather than an early round stud could lead to some big dividends being sent your way next season.
Those who were willing to stick with Espinosa through June are reaping the benefits of their decision. In 48 games since June 1, Espionsa is hitting .289 with 8 homers, 9 steals, and some solid run production and scoring with 28 runs and 24 RBI. Those numbers come with 56 strikeouts to just nine walks, so there is a decent chance that those numbers come back down to pre-July territory. Even so, this has been a rather solid second campaign for Espinosa and his overall consistency compared to last year gives confidence in him having a similar season next year.
Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.