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Danny Espinosa

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Daniel Richard Espinosa

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[edit] Biographical Information

Danny Espinosa is an infielder who made his major league debut with the Washington Nationals in 2010.

In the 2003 World Youth Championship, Espinosa hit .483 to help the USA win a Gold Medal. He scored 10 runs to tie for the team lead. In high school, Danny batted .379 as a junior with 13 steals. He slumped to .288 with 20 steals as a senior in 2005.

As a college freshman, Espinosa became the first Long Beach State University player to be named Big West Conference Freshman of the Year. He hit .281 and was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball; Baseball America chose Gordon Beckham and Brandon Crawford instead. That summer, he hit .252 for the Chatham Athletics of the Cape Cod League.

Danny batted .319 in 2007 and led his team with 7 homers. He won second-team All-Big West Conference honors. In the summer, Espinosa played for Team USA's college edition, splitting shortstop duties with Jordy Mercer. Espinosa hit .215 as one of the team's lightest threats. Danny was 4 for 15 in the 2007 Pan American Games to help the US win Silver; his 2 steals tied Logan Forsythe for the team lead. He batted .263/.318/.316 in the 2007 World Port Tournament.

In 2008, Espinosa hit .309/.392/.470 and fielded .953 for Long Beach. His six triples tied for the Big West Conference lead.

The Washington Nationals took Espinosa in the 3rd round of the 2008 amateur draft. The 87th overall pick, he was signed by scout Mark Baca for a $525,000 bonus. He debuted as a pro with the Vermont Lake Monsters, batting .328/.476/.359 with 17 walks in 19 games. Baseball America rated him as the #14 prospect in the New York-Penn League and #14 in the Nationals organization.

Espinosa put up a .264/.375/.460 line for the 2009 Potomac Nationals with 31 doubles, 18 home runs, 90 runs and 29 steals in 40 tries while fielding .965 at shortstop. He led the Carolina League in runs as well as fielding percentage (.965) and putouts (219) at shortstop. He made the league All-Star team at short. Baseball America rated him the best defensive shortstop in the circuit and as the #10 prospect, just ahead of Danny Duffy. He played the full 2009 Futures Game at short for the USA. Espinosa struck out against Yohan Flande in the second, struck out against Jhoulys Chacin in the fourth, ground out facing Chia-Jen Lo in the 6th and finally drew a Juan Carlos Sulbaran walk in the 7th.

Danny began 2010 well with the Harrisburg Senators. Picked for the 2010 Futures Game, he backed up Drew Cumberland at second base for the USA. He ground out against Stolmy Pimentel in the 6th and against Philippe Valiquette in the 7th. He also played short that day after Grant Green came in to man second. After hitting .262/.334/.464 with 18 homers and 20 steals for Harrisburg, he batted .295/.349/.463 for the Syracuse Chiefs for a .268/.337/.464 season with 22 homers, 25 stolen bases, 80 runs and 69 RBI. He got his first call-up to the major leagues in September of that year, going 1 for 2 in a game against the Florida Marlins in his debut on September 1st. He doubled off Chris Volstad in his first big league at-bat, replacing Adam Dunn in the lineup and Adam Kennedy at second (Kennedy had moved to first when Dunn left the game). He went 5 for 11 with a homer in his first three MLB games. He had a great game in his fifth game, on September 5th, going 4 for 5 with a double and a pair of homers, driving in 6 runs. The 10 RBI over his first five games matched a record set by Jack Merson in 1951; Yasiel Puig would match it again in 2013. Espinosa played 28 games that first season, hitting .214 with 6 homers and 15 RBI.

In 2011, he was the Nationals' regular second baseman, playing 158 games. He hit .236/.323/.414 (102 OPS+), but with 29 doubles and 21 homers, 72 runs scored and 66 RBI. He was named to the 2011 Topps All-Star Rookie Team. He was among the 2011 NL leaders in strikeouts (166, tied for third with Giancarlo Stanton), times hit by pitch (19, tied for first with Justin Upton), assists (464, 2nd, 2 behind Omar Infante), double plays at 2B (101, 2nd, 7 behind Neil Walker) and errors at 2B (14, 3rd, one behind Rickie Weeks and Dan Uggla)

He continued as the starting second baseman when the Nationals won the NL East crown in 2012. He played 160 games that year, hitting .247/.315/.402 (94 OPS+) with 37 doubles and 17 homers. He scored 82 runs and drove in 56, but also led the National League with 189 strikeouts (ahead of Pedro Alvarez). He also tied for 4th with 13 times plunked, even with Weeks and Norichika Aoki. On September 8th, he hurt his left shoulder making a diving play against the Miami Marlins, but kept on playing in spite of the pain. He was only 1 for 15 in the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. The injury was originally diagnosed as a bruise, but after the season, as the pain did not subside, doctors confirmed that it was a torn rotator cuff. He decided not to undergo surgery, which would have forced him to miss two months of the following season, but instead to treat the problem with rehabilitation exercises.

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