Santiago Espinal is more along the lines of Guerrero than Kirk and Varsho, in that the pressure on him is not impacted by any outside circumstances. Pure and simple, he disappointed this past season, albeit not to the same extent as Guerrero.
The 2023 campaign definitely represented a regression for Espinal. He was nothing like the player who a year earlier set single-season highs in hits, home runs, RBI and walks, and was selected to his first All-Star Game.
The 29-year-old was a major disappointment, as he had the worst batting average of his four-year career, as well as the lowest OPS and OPS+ since his rookie season. In addition, while not renowned for his power hitter, two home runs and 25 RBI is still not going to cut it.
It didn't help that Espinal also struggled for form defensively. He was moved all around the infield, but was unable to find form or stability at any one position.
As we've asked previously, this leads to the question of which version is closer to the real Santiago Espinal? Is it the one from 2022, or last year?
From out perspective, it's not as if the Dominican Republic native has suddenly become a terrible player overnight. In this respect -- at least offensively -- think back to how he finished this past season.
If there's anything to be encouraged about in his game, Espinal complied a .375 batting average across his final 51 at-bats of the 2023 season. This resulted in a 152 wRC+, six doubles, six runs driven in and four runs scored.
As such, there is a certain amount of confidence in Espinal's ability to rebound next year. Certainly Blue Jays fans will be hoping so, because he sure has a lot to prove to show his 2022 season wasn't a one-off flash in the pan.