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Rookie Danny Espinosa leads the Nationals so far with 14 RBI.
That's a lot of major-league experience around that semi-circle, enough to perhaps intimidate a 24-year-old rookie who only three summers ago was playing college ball.
Spend a few minutes with Danny Espinosa, though, and it's quickly apparent very little intimidates this guy.
"It's real easy as a young guy to come up and not be sure if you belong here," LaRoche said. "Kind of feel your way around. Is this for me? Am I good enough to play up here? I haven't seen any signs of that. When you play with the guy and talk with the guy, you think he's been around three or four years. The fact he's that mature as a ballplayer is impressive."
So is the fact Espinosa currently has twice as many RBI as anyone else on the Nationals' roster.
Yep, with yesterday's six-RBI performance in the Nats' doubleheader sweep of the Brewers, Espinosa now has driven in 14 runs in 15 games. That's tops on the team, twice as many as the next guy on the list (Rodriguez) and seven times as many as the $126 million right fielder.
Sure, it's a small sample size, and RBI totals by no means provide a complete view of a player's offensive performance. But it's certainly an encouraging sign for the Nationals that while Werth and LaRoche continue to get their feet wet in D.C. and Zimmerman sits on the DL with an abdominal strain, their rookie second baseman is helping keep this club afloat.
Few inside that clubhouse are surprised by this.
"He definitely has the talent," Hairston said. "This kid can really do just about everything. ... I expect a lot from him. We all do."
Espinosa's big doubleheader day was all the more impressive because both of his clutch hits (a three-run homer in the opener, a three-run triple in the nightcap) came from the left side of the plate.
The switch-hitter has always put up better numbers when batting right-handed. Between the majors, Class AAA and Class AA last season, Espinosa hit .284 (40-for-141) from the right side of the plate, only .256 (114-for-445) from the left side.
"I have confidence in my left-handed swing," he said. "It's not as strong as my right hand, I would say, just because of my top hand. But it's getting there. Sometimes during the season, it just takes a little time for my left-handed swing to find itself. But I'm feeling good."
Espinosa also looks perfectly comfortable atop the Nationals' lineup. Team officials were reluctant at first to bump Espinosa up to the leadoff spot, but his play combined with Ian Desmond's struggles forced manager Jim Riggleman into making the switch over the weekend.
"He's definitely comfortable there," Riggleman said. "It's not just a matter of comfort. It's a matter of: Is that going to be the best place for him, and is he the best player for us to have there? At this point, it certainly looks like he is. But he's a good hitter, period. There's a lot of ways to take advantage of Danny. When he's swinging well, he can help you in a lot of places. But right now, we need him to help us at the top."
Some players, especially young ones, might think they need to alter their approach when getting bumped up to the leadoff spot. The key to Espinosa's success might be the fact he doesn't change a thing.
"I try to see a lot of pitches every at-bat," he said. "There's certain times when I get aggressive. But for the most part, I always try to see a lot of pitches when I'm hitting. So I don't feel like it really changes my approach."
Imagine that: A rookie who seems perfectly comfortable no matter his situation. Leading off. Hitting seventh. Playing a new position full-time for the first time. And sitting in a clubhouse among seasoned veterans, blending right in and making everyone forget he's been in the big leagues all of seven weeks.