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Danny Espinosa: Reasons for Concern

Note: I have already gone over my main list of 2B keepers for 2012. Today, I am looking at why I didn’t consider Danny Espinosa to be keeper worthy.

Danny Espinosa produced some decent stats in 2011. He was a dual threat with power (21 HRs) and speed (17 SB). One main problem for him was his 0.236 AVG. On the surface, he looks to be a reasonable fantasy option for 2012. After looking at some various numbers, it seems like pitchers adjusted to him in the 2nd half of the season and it may be a rough 2012 season.

Danny started out the season on a tear by hitting 0.242/0.332/0.460 with 15 HRs in the first 3 months. Over the next 3 months, he only hit 0.227/0.310/0.352 with 6 HRs. His production noticeably dropped off during the second half of the season, especially his power numbers.

Besides the drop in power, his BB% increased for 7% to 10% while his K% increased from 25% to 32%. He was getting mixed results from his judgment of the strike zone.

Using Pitch FX data, I looked at why this changed occurred. First here is a run value heat map showing where Danny hits the ball the best.

He definitely likes pitches on the lower half the plate.

Pitchers noticed this trend and began to attack higher up in the strike zone. In the first half the season, 58% of of the pitches in the strike zone were in the lower half of the zone. In the second half the season, it was only 51%. Including all pitches, in the strike zone or not, the percentage of pitches in the lower half of the zone went from 60% to 54%. Pitchers began to stay away from the lower part of the zone.

It is now time for Danny to adjust to the pitchers after they adjusted to him. He will need to find way to improve on the 2nd half of the season. He can’t have a 32% K% to go along with HRs only in the low teens. For him to have a good 2012 season, he will have to make pitchers use the whole plate by hitting the high pitches for a decent average.

With all that bad news, I could see him being a keeper for a team, depending on the cost. He was probably picked up fairly cheap this last year and could be a decent value keeper.

2B is fairly deep going into 2012, so I see no reason to have Danny Espinosa as a keeper, unless at a super low price. His 2nd half drop in production coincided with pitchers staying away from the lower half of the plate. He will need to adjust in 2012 to have a similar season to the first half of 2011.