Thursday, May 12, 2011

Desmond's Been Clutch Since Becoming a Papa

Ian Desmond's stats this season are really nothing to write home about. His slash line is a meager .224/.254/.384. That's right, Desi's slugging .384. That's, well, not very good. But the story that hasn't yet been told is what's happened since he's become a dad. And it goes beyond the stats.

Desmond returned to the Nats on April 28th, and his numbers since then haven't been much better. He brought up his batting average to .255 and his OBP stayed the same at .254. But since his return, Desmond's obviously just playing better baseball with a clearer head. And who can blame him? A 25-year-old becoming a father for the first time is certainly a nerve-wracking experience.

Desmond's managed to get clutch hits, most notably his 2-run RBI in the 11th inning on Wednesday in Atlanta, which gave the Nats a 5-3 lead. He finished that game 2 for 6 and made some solid defensive plays. In his first game back from paternity leave, on April 28th, he went 2 for 4 with 2 runs and an RBI in another winning effort for the Nats. On the season, Desmond is hitting .273 in tie games and .350 in late and close games according to Baseball-Reference.

Perhaps the most staggering statistic since Desmond's return, though, is his incredible drop in fielding errors. This season, he has 8 errors; 7 of those 8 errors happened in the first 4 weeks of the season. Since returning 2 weeks ago, Desmond has committed just 1 fielding error. He's gone from committing almost 2 errors a week to 1 error every 2 weeks. Considering he is still on pace for 36 errors this season, the improved defense since his return is sorely needed to get him down to a much more reasonable level.

Despite his explosion in the 11th last night in the #2 spot in the order, Ian Desmond looks to be slated best for the 6 or 7 hole in the lineup based on his production so far this year. He's gotten less opportunities, so it's a bit smaller sample size, but in the 6 hole, Desmond is hitting .417, and in the 7 hole, he's hitting .316 with a .435 OBP. While his speed suggests he could be at the top of the lineup, his 33 strikeouts and just 5 walks lend him well to the lower-middle end of the lineup.

So we know people are hot and cold on Desi, but we say let's give him another shot now that he's been playing more confident baseball. What do you say?

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