Espinosa Brings Unteachable Quality To Halos

Updated: March 8, 2017

Second baseman Danny Espinosa grew up in Southern California and attended national powerhouse Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. Immediately thereafter, he took his baseball talents to Long Beach State, whose tradition is every bit as strong as the previously said school.

What is more is that he was a bigtime Angels fan in his younger days. As a result, he got the golden opportunity to soak in that magical 2002 season when a scrappy team took down a team that no one expected them to beat.

What is interesting is that Chicago Cubs’ head honcho Joe Maddon recently compared Espinosa alongside a former Halo. This makes sense given that Maddon was a former bench coach for the ball club in the earlier portion of Mike Scioscia’s longtime tenure with the organization. The figure he used as a comparison was the littlest man on his team, but was one whose energy and spirit contracted his stature: David Eckstein. When Maddon describes Espinosa, Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times was sure to include that there are definitely similarities.

“‘He’s a real baseball player; he plays the game right,’ Maddon said. ‘He’s gonna hit some home runs. You don’t expect it, but he’s got power. He works a tough at-bat. He’s gonna get hit by a lot of pitches. He’s that guy who is always in the middle of something good happening for your team, and he plays great defense.’”

Espinosa is going to bring stability to a position that has not had a lot of it since Howie Kendrick left the team after the 2014 campaign. While Johnny Giavotella gave the team some clutch at-bats in his stint with the Angels, his defense was pedestrian at best. Thus, when Danny is examined, the ball club has an individual with a much stronger track record in that respect.

On the grounds that he will be playing directly by Andrelton Simmons, Espinosa will be linked with a double-play combination that could be lethal. Scioscia likewise recognizes how important Espinosa will be for the organization in this aspect.

“‘Defensively,’ Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said, ‘you can see that Danny is going to be a difference-maker.’”

Offensively, he will be expected to provide a boost as well. He has had two seasons where he has clubbed over 20 dingers. Last season happened to be his best performance in that regard, for he knocked 24 over the fence.

Espinosa’s biggest weakness is that his offensive game is not polished when it comes to making consistent contact. He had 174 strikeouts last season. Since the Halos are a team that places quite a bit of concentration on making contact, it will be an area Danny needs to make strides in.

“‘We’ve already addressed it,’ Angels hitting coach Dave Hansen said. ‘It’s something he wants to get better at. He knows that’s the difference, because if he already has the pop, what’s not allowing him to use the pop consistently? That’s usually discipline around the plate.’”

Hansen exhibited that he is working with Danny to think more efficiently. The Orange County product has been known to have a violent, aggressive swing, and Hansen has been trying to take that approach down a peg or two. In doing so, Espinosa will have better luck in a wide range of scenarios at the plate. DiGiovanna furthers explains this in his piece.

“The 6-foot, 205-pound Espinosa said the key is ‘being on time,’ getting his front foot down quickly enough for his upper half to be synchronized with his lower half.”

One thing the Angels will not make Espinosa change is the fact that he has been a switch-hitter since his days as a Little Leaguer. What is somewhat puzzling is that the Washington Nationals experimented with only using Danny from one side of the dish for a short time a couple years back. This decision threw off his mechanics and overall groove. That will not be a worry in Anaheim thankfully. What will also not be a worry is that he is now (literally) within familiar territory. He is back home to utilize his vernacular.

“‘We were very happy when we found out about the trade,’ said Espinosa, who is married with a 5-month-old son. ‘I’m excited to go home, to play at home, and to have the opportunity to play every day is awesome.’

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