Espinosa's numbers in some categories are far and away better than any of his rookie counterparts. His WAR is 3.1, good for 1st place among rookies in all of baseball and more than double Cardinals SS Allen Craig's WAR (1.5). Espinosa is providing double the wins that the next best rookie in all of baseball would provide. If that's not impressive enough, Espinosa also leads MLB rookies in plate appearances, home runs, runs, RBI, and stolen bases. Not NL rookies, MLB rookies. He's better than every rookie in all of baseball in the most important raw stats in baseball. His own numbers aren't the only thing that is propelling Espinosa to the front of the Rookie of the Year competition, though.
The Washington Nationals record may have a lot to do with whether Espinosa ultimately wins the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2011. Since 1998, when Kerry Wood won the NL RoY award, only 3 players have won the award with sub-.500 teams: Jason Jennings (Rockies), Jason Bay (Pirates), Hanley Ramirez (Marlins). Two winners played for teams that ultimately won the World Series (Dontrelle Willis - 2003; Buster Posey - 2010). It's not easy for a Rookie of the Year to emerge from an unimpressive baseball team.
This Nats current stint above the .500 mark is drawing more notice to Espinosa and his candidacy for the prestigious award, but the team will have to continue to be relevant nationally, not just in DC circles, for Espi to stand a real chance to win the award. If he's able to keep up this current offensive breakout, we could be celebrating our first Rookie of the Year winner in NatsTown come this off-season.