The Nats 20/20 Candidates
One of the downsides of having a nearly complete roster at the beginning of spring is that there are very fewreal questions to address. One big question for 2013 is how good Danny Espinosa will be. Espinosa to his credit is already a fairly complete player. Outside of his NL-leading 189 strikeouts, he was an average to above average second baseman offensively, coupled with superb defense and above average base running. However there is room for improvement, which has led to articles like this one by Thom Loverro. In it when asked about Espinosa’s potential Mike Rizzo said that “he can hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases.”
Accomplishing this feat would place Espinosa in the 20/20 club. While not as exclusive as the 30/30 or 40/40 club, it is still an interesting milestone to measure speed and power. In the past ten seasons only 102 times has a player had a season ending with 20 home runs and 20 steals. This feat is even rarer for second baseman, only being accomplished 11 times in 10 years. For the Nationals a 20/20 season is very rare, as it has only been accomplished twice since they moved to DC. The first time in 2006 by Alfonso Soriano on his way to joining the 40/40 club and the second time by Ian Desmond last year.
So for a second baseman on the Nationals it would be quite the accomplishment to reach the 20/20 plateau, but it certainly isn’t out of reach for Espinosa. Last season he hit 17 home runs and had 20 steals, the year before he hit 21 home runs and had 17 steals, all he needs to do is put those two seasons together. While it obviously is easier said than done it wouldn’t take a huge jump in production, or even really a jump at all, for Espinosa to accomplish it. What is more astonishing though is that the Nationals also have two other prime candidates to make it into the club in 2013, the aforementioned Desmond and Bryce Harper.
As stated previously Desmond is already a member of the 20/20 club having hit 25 home runs and swiping 21 bags last season, so it seems like there’s a good chance he can do it again. The question for Desmond though is whether his power explosion is for real, as up until 2012 he’d only hit a total of 22 home runs in his entire major league career (1191 AB’s). The likely answer is somewhere in the middle, but that does give him some leeway to make it to 20 homers. The third musketeer, Harper, came extremely close in his rookie season hitting 22 home runs with 18 steals. He also missed the first 20 games of the season, so there’s a chance that he would already be a 20/20 member if he started the year in Washington. Of the three, Harper probably has the best chance at a 20/20 year in 2013.
If all three of these players can reach 20 home runs and 20 steals the Nationals will have increased the number of 20/20 players in their history by 150%. While it isn’t a slam dunk for any of them, they have the best shots any Washington player has had going into a season. These three exemplify the mix of power and speed that make the Nationals lineup so dangerous and their ability to make history in 2013.