The Washington Nationals have been hit by the injury bug a bit early this season, and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will now miss 4-6 weeks after suffering a fractured right thumb on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves. Second baseman Anthony Rendon is slated to move over to third base while Zimmerman is sidelined, and Danny Espinosa will likely become Washington’s every day second baseman.
Should fantasy baseball owners now add Espinosa?
Epinosa was once a rising star, after hitting 38 home runs with 37 stolen bases during the 2011 and 2012 seasons combined, but he struggled with a wrist injury last season and hit just .158 with three home runs and 12 RBI over 158 at-bats with the Nationals. He has only started three games so far this season, but after entering Saturday’s game and going 1-for-2 Espinosa is now hitting .316 (6-for-19) in nine games played.
Espinosa showed a power and speed combo that is rare for a middle infielder prior to last season, which made it easier for fantasy owners to ignore his poor batting averages (.236 in 2011; .247 in 2012) and high strikeout totals (166 in 2011; 189 in 2012). His struggles in 2013 can be blamed on his wrist issue, and since he is just shy of his 27th birthday (April 25) Espinosa may only need more consistent playing time to work his back to his previous form.
Espinosa’s fantasy outlook once Zimmerman is back in the lineup is at best cloudy, which makes him only worth adding immediately in NL-only leagues for owners that need middle infield help. If he is able to re-establish himself over the next few weeks the Nationals could find a trade market for Espinosa, at which point mixed league owners can begin to pay closer attention to him.