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2016 Nats roster outlook: Is Danny Espinosa set for shortstop?


2016 Nats roster outlook: Is Danny Espinosa set for shortstop?

Age on Opening Day 2016: 28

How acquired: Drafted in 3rd round, 2008

2016 salary: $2.9 million

2015 stats: 118 G, 412 PA, 59 R, 88 H, 21 2B, 3B, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 5 SB, 33 BB, 106 SO, .240 BA, .311 OBP, .409 SLG, .719 OPS, 92 OPS+, 3 E, 1.8 WAR

2016 storyline: After a comeback year in 2015, Danny Espinosa enters 2016 with a an opportunity to secure the job he's always wanted: starting shortstop of the Nationals. 

A natural shortstop, Espinosa has instead played for years at second base due to the presence of Ian Desmond. But now Desmond is out of the picture and second base appears set with Daniel Murphy. That leaves shortstop and Espinosa has already made it very clear he wants to play there.

At Nationals WinterFest in December, Espinosa flat-out said he wants to start at shortstop. Now he will get his best chance yet to lock down the position.

Espinosa will, however, have some competition. Where Trea Turner will start the season is not known at this point, but he's likely to play a factor this year, whether that is at shortstop or elsewhere. There is also Stephen Drew, who was signed to an inexpensive contract but has a long history of success at the position.

Though Espinosa had a solid bounce-back year in 2015, he will still have his work cut out for him this season to stay on the field.

Best-case scenario: What's best for Espinosa may also be best for the Nationals, and that's Espinosa having a strong spring and beginning the year as starting shortstop. That would allow Turner to get some more seasoning in the minors and Drew to settle in on the bench. The Nats would then have impressive depth at their middle infield positions from the major leagues on down.

In terms of his numbers, Espinosa was good in 2015, but could continue to improve in several areas. His .240/.311/.409 slash-line was solid for what he was asked for, but the Nationals would prefer those averages to go up if he is the primary starter. 

Espinosa's best-case scenario could look like his career-best season. In 2011, Espinosa set career-highs with a .323 OPB, .414 SLG, .737 OPS, 102 OPS+, 21 homers and 66 RBI. This numbers could keep him safe from the threat of Turner.

Worst-case scenario: Given the competition he will face for the shortstop job, a poor spring for Espinosa could put him in danger of falling down the depth chart. Not only are Turner and Drew going to do their best to impress Dusty Baker, so will Wilmer Difo. If Espinosa struggles early, it could be a crowded mix to fight through. If Espinosa slips up, he could be right back on the bench where we all know he would prefer not to be.

Most-likely scenario: If Espinosa can carry over his 2015 season into this spring, if he plays well in the Grapefruit League, that should be enough for him to start the season as the Nationals' shortstop. But it's not going to be easy for him to keep the job with Turner waiting in the wings. Turner was just named the 11th-best prospect in baseball by and has tremendous speed, which Baker has said he covets. Turner is the shortstop of the future and has to play at some point.

Take these season projections for what you will, but Baseball Reference and FanGraphs each predict Espinosa to regress and see his OBP drop below .300 and his OPS below .700. That would not be good for his cause.

[RELATED: Bryce Harper gives emotional acceptance speech for MVP award]

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.

Dancing is not.

On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor. 

With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch." 

Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.

While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."


It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.

While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle. 

106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.