The Washington Times - July 13, 2011, 10:48PM

A handful of Nationals are within range of some interesting statistical accomplishments this season. Keep an eye on the following in the final 70 games:

● Danny Espinosa might set a record – an all-time record – for home runs in a season by a second baseman 24 or younger.

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Espinosa, who turned 24 in April, has 16 homers through 92 games, which projects to 28 (actually, 28.2) over a full season. That happens to be the record, which is shared by Hall of Famer Joe Gordon (at age 24 with the 1939 Yankees) and Jorge Cantu (at 23 with the 2005 Rays). So the mark is very much within Espy’s reach.

Amazingly, only five second basemen in major-league history have hit 20 or more homers in a season before celebrating their 25th birthday. At the very least, Danny should join that group. Here’s the list:

28 Joe Gordon*, 1939 Yankees (24 years old)

28 Jorge Cantu, 2005 Rays (23)

25 Joe Gordon*, 1938 Yankees (23)

24 Jim Lefebvre, 1966 Dodgers (24)

22 Bobby Doerr*, 1940 Red Sox (22)

21 Carlos Baerga, 1993 Indians (24)

20 Carlos Baerga, 1992 Indians (23)

* Hall of Famer

● Another (obscure) rarity Espinosa has a good shot at: Only three second baseman of any age have hit 20 home runs and been hit by a pitch 20 times in the same season. In addition to his 16 homers, Espy has been plunked on a league-leading 15 occasions. That projects to 26 HBPs for 162 games. The company he would keep:

Craig Biggio, Astros, in 1995 (22 HR, 22 HBP), ’97 (22/34), ’98 (20/23) and 2001 (20/28).

Chase Utley, Phillies, in 2007 (22/25), ’08 (33/27) and ’09 (31/24).

Rickie Weeks, Brewers, in 2010 (29/25).

● Tyler Clippard is on pace to rack up 100 strikeouts – exclusively as a reliever – for the second straight year.

This isn’t exactly common, either. Since 2000, Eric Gagne (2002-04 with the Dodgers) and Brad Lidge (2004-2006 with the Astros) have done it three seasons in a row , B.J. Ryan (2004-05 with the Orioles) has done it in back-to-back years and … that’s it. Clippard struck out 112 last season and is on a 111-strikeout pace this year.

● Drew Storen, with 23 saves so far, projects to 40 (actually, 40.5) for the full season. Only four relievers 24 or younger (Storen turns 24 in August) have had 40 or more saves in a season. They are:

47 Frankie Rodriguez, 2006 Angels (24 years old)

47 Chad Cordero, 2005 Nationals (23)

45 Frankie Rodriguez, 2005 Angels (23)

42 Joakim Soria, 2008 Royals (24)

40 Neftali Feliz, 2010 Rangers (22)

And finally …

● Jerry Hairston, with 61 home runs in 14 big-league seasons, has a chance to out-OPS Jayson Werth, the $126 Million Man. The scoreboard currently reads:

Hairston .687

Werth .681

The source for all this stuff, of course: baseball-reference.com.