Espinosa and Roberts: 2B Ownership Decliners

Today, I am going to do a quick look at the 2B that have been dropped the most in ESPN leagues. I will look at what is wrong with each player and if there is any hope for improvement.

(Values after name are ESPN ownership %, % point drop in ESPN ownership and Yahoo ownership %)

Ryan Raburn (22%, -38%, 8% ) – Raburn is the 2B being dropped the most in ESPN leagues. I am going to wimp out a bit and recommend another recent Rotographs article where David Wiers does a great job examining Raburn’s struggles.

Ryan Roberts (57%, -37%, 39%) – It is like it is 2010 all over again for Roberts after having what looks like a career season in 2011:

2010: .197/.229/.348, 0.229
2011: .249/.341/.427, 0.275
2012: .159/.243/.254, 0.188

First, Ryan has not struggled with his plate discipline. His BB% and K% are within a point or two of career averages. His main problem in 2012 is that he is not hitting the ball with much power. Even though he is making contact near his career norm, only 8% of his hits are line drives. This value is 1/3 of his 2011 value. Along with his inability to hit line drives, 1/4 of his batted balls have gone for infield pop outs. No wonder his 2012 ISO (0.095) is about 1/2 of his 2011 value (0.188).

After being one of my favorite stories of 2011, I have quickly soured on Roberts. He will have to hit more line drives and less pop ups for his value to go in the positive direction.

Danny Espinosa (60%, -28%, 38%) – Danny has always had problems making contact with the ball (26% career K%). In 2012, his K% has gone up to 30%. The reason for the change is a 4% point jump in his O-Swing% and a 2% drop in is O-Contact%.

It is fine to have a 30% K% if the player is adding other value with his bat. Danny is adding very little value. His triple slash line is currently at 0.205/0.300/0.269. Those values are just not going to cut it. His 2012 BABIP (0.294) is above his career average, so it is not causing the decline. His main problem is his declining home runs numbers. Here are his 3 year trends in FB% and HR/FB

Stat: 2010, 2011, 2012
FB%: 46%, 40%, 31%
HR/FB: 18%, 14%, 6%

Less fly balls + Less HRs per fly ball = Less HRs

I see no hope right now for Danny. He needs to make improvement in his plate discipline and/or power stroke to become an everyday player at 2B in deep leagues, not alone 10 to 14 team leagues.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

11 Responses to “Espinosa and Roberts: 2B Ownership Decliners”

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  1. Snarf says:

    Espinosa has a 21% LD rate and there’s no mention of the fact that his walk rate is up to 12%, which is 5 percentage points above last year. He’s also scored 11 runs already, which puts him on pace for 90+ runs. In 2011 he was the 10th best 2B according to ESPIN player rater.

    He’s a notorious streaky hitter and he’ll come back…stash him on your bench until he strings together a few solid games.

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  2. mcbrown says:

    I’m not an Espinosa fan, but I think it’s a little unfair to look at a three year trend as if each season in the sample were equal. He had a whopping 112 PAs in 2010 and 91 so far in 2012… a 6% HR/FB rate in 2012 is one homer away from 12%. I’m not saying you should go grab him (even at his 2011 production I think he’s a fairly marginal player in most leagues, given the current depth at 2B), I’m just saying that this analysis is a little bit more definitive than warranted under the circumstances.

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  3. John Stamos says:

    What a depressing article.

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  4. Feeding the Abscess says:

    Espinosa’s Z-Swing% and Z-Contact% are also both up.

    I would like to see him hit more flyballs though.

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  5. JCA says:

    Looking at his game log, Espinosa went about 8 games with only one fly ball (4/9 to 4/17) and 12 ground balls. This is from a guy who was nearly 1:1 last year and after his call up in 2010. After that, he’s gone back to hacking, with his K rate increasing and his BB rate dropping. I’ve been watching this as a Nats fan, and frankly an Espinosa fan, and noticed his P/PA has drifted back to his average (~3.8 last I checked), which is league average, after being above 4 early in the year.

    Two theories I’ve seen – one is he is horrible lefty, has been weak since upper minors, and that is killing him. However, that does not explain the drop off from last year. Another is that he is miscast as a #2 hitter, was working on taking pitches and swinging to avoid Ks early on, and lost his power stroke. It may be a bit of both.

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  6. TY says:

    Be the ball Danny. Danny be the ball nanananananananana. . . .

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  7. jim says:

    dropped him a week ago

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  8. Shaun Catron says:

    Why is Espinosa a switch hitter? I think that is his biggest problem. His swing from the left side of the plate is abysmal but he switch hits just to say:

    Sup Guyz I’m a switch hitter lOLZ!

    why not just try hitting exclusively from the right side and see what sort of triple slash he put sup?

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    • JCA says:

      the team is very light on lefty hitting among the guys who project to be there over the next couple of years. There’s Harper, and LaRoche if they exercise his option. Desmond, both catchers, Zimmerman and Werth are all righties. Morse is also a righty if he projects as the LF and the team does not land Rizzo’s White Whale (leadoff CF), or squeezes out Laroche if he is the 1B. The team is hoping Espinosa can hit left handed to balance the line up against righties.

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  9. Rob says:

    Your article starts out w/ Ryan Rayburn (?) when you obviously meant Ryan Roberts.. I had to do a double-take .

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  10. Rob says:

    Plus I handcuffed Espinosa and Lombardozzi in my Scoresheet NL league. Turned out, I’M the one with the handcuffs.

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