Espinosa continues red-hot hitting from right side
By Daniel Popper
WASHINGTON – Danny Espinosa got the start at second base over Asdrubal Cabrera Wednesday night against Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese because of his tremendous numbers from the right side of the plate in 2014.
He rewarded the decision from manager Matt Williams in the sixth inning by delivering a three-run righty homerun to deep left field on a changeup down in the strike zone that extended the Nationals lead to six runs in an eventual 7-1 victory at Nationals Park.
“He had good length through the swing and was able to get enough of it to get it out,” Williams said.
Entering the contest, the switch-hitting infielder known for his stellar glove was hitting .309 with a .385 on-base percentage in 81 right-handed at-bats. However, Espinosa’s been equally as abysmal from the left side of the plate this season as he’s been potent from the right side. In 201 lefty at-bats, Espinosa is hitting .184 with 84 of his 104 total strikeouts.
Manager Matt Williams said the discrepancy between Espinosa’s numbers in right-handed and left-handed at-bats boils down to the second baseman getting on top of the baseball. Williams said Espinosa has a natural tendency to get on top of the ball more from the right side than the left side, though he’s been working tirelessly in the cage to improve that part of his hitting as a lefty.
From Espinosa’s perspective, his success as a righty this season comes down to consistency.
“I go up there and I do the same thing,” Espinosa said of his right-handed approach. “I go up there with the same stance. I go up there and I know what I want to do. I know what I can do. Left-handed, I’ve been searching as far as comfort in my stance. Right-handed I’ve been the same guy since I’ve been in pro ball.”
When asked after the game if he was considering only batting right-handed until he figured things out from the left side, Espinosa didn’t shoot down the idea.
Still, he noted that it would be a difficult transition, largely because he’s never faced a big-league right-hander from the right side of the plate. To adjust to the different angles, Espinosa said he would need a substantial number of at-bats outside of the Majors, an amount he could only get during the offseason.
“If it was that easy, I think I would try it,” Espinosa said. “But I’ve never done it.”