Santiago Espinal used to be known as only one thing: a quality utility infielder. After a successful start to the season and an even better performance this past weekend against the Houston Astros, it is clear that he is ready to shed his old title. After all, if there’s one player on the Blue Jays roster who has been proving their worth both offensively and defensively lately, it is infielder Santiago Espinal.
Coming into the 2022 season, his role this year was not very clear. He wouldn’t be needed at third base anymore due to the excellent addition of Matt Chapman. With Cavan Biggio healthy and ready to play again at his usual second base position, this left Espinal with his old role: utility infielder, only to play when there was a lefty pitcher or when someone needed an off day.
Whatever the original intention may have been for Espinal this season, he has managed to prove why the Blue Jays need him to be in the everyday lineup, always coming up with crucial hits and run-saving catches.
His offensive numbers so far this season may not be outstanding, with Santiago hitting .220 with two home runs and seven RBI, but they do little to tell the full story of his contribution for the team.
This past series against the Astros is an excellent example of his contributions, with Espinal swinging a hot bat, bringing in crucial runs for the Jays. Over this last weekend, he hit two home runs in as many games and and finished the series with three RBI.
When he wasn’t getting crucial hits for the Blue Jays, he was demonstrating one of the main reasons why he is such an asset in the everyday lineup, that being his defensive range in the infield. This past weekend he had multiple jaw-dropping diving plays, saving numerous runs from being scored. We also got a peek into the superb double play duo developing that is Espinal and Chapman. Santiago has committed zero errors so far, and seems to be one of the only Blue Jays infielders that is dependable and trustworthy when it comes to fielding routine ground balls and turning double plays.
This season is only just getting started, but if he is already displaying this much skill early on, you can only imagine where he will go as he gets more playing time and opportunity. Assuming he keeps performing at this level, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be playing in the lineup everyday.
If he keeps playing like this, it may just be time to start looking into buying a Santiago Espinal jersey. Do you consider Espinal an everyday player yet?