Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Few Good Men: 44 - Desmond

44. The Atomic Number of Ruthenium. The jersey number of Hank Aaron. The number of American presidents. And...the number of players to don a jersey for the Washington Nationals in the calendar year 2011. The 44th and final edition of our 44-part series details the year 2011 in the life of...

Ian Desmond - Age 26 - 2 years + 1 September MLB Service Time

How he became a Nat: Drafted by the (ahem) Montreal Expos in the 3rd round of the 2004 first year player draft.

The Raw Numbers:
AVG - .253
OPS - .656
oWAR - 1.6
SB - 25
E - 23

Key Stat: WAR - 1.4. Ian Desmond is 26 and has been playing professional baseball since 2004. He has not shot through any level of play, nor has he particularly shined at any level of play. But he is a major league player. Is he the second coming of Derek Jeter, as a former Nats GM implied? No. His 1.4. WAR tells you exactly what he is, a guy who knows baseball, can play baseball, but will never be an all-star - despite what Bill Ladson says.

Best Game: August 21 against the Phillies. Going into the 9th inning, Ian was 1-4 with a double, a run and 2 strikeouts. But in the bottom of the 9th, with 2 outs, Desi hit a solo bomb to send the game into extras. The Nats won in the 10th.

Worst Game: May 12th against the Braves. 0-5. Golden Sombrero. Nats lose in extra innings. Ouch.

Capball Grade: Probably the hardest grade of the whole series. I like Ian. I saw him play for Potomac way back when. He was drafted by the Expos, what do you do with that? B-. The guy improved on defense, moved all around the line-up, and endured speculation and criticism for, well just being Ian Desmond. The guy had almost 150 hits, 40 XBH, 25 steals and was a good baseball player.

2012 Nats Status: As much as he would benefit from a change of scenery (not that he would admit it) and as much as the Nats want to be free from his issues (not that they would admit it), he will be a Nat in 2012. And that's a good thing. He is a cliche, a team player, has a great baseball IQ, and can lead by example. And he is only 26.

Ian Desmond is a polarizing player. Represent your pole in the comments section!


  1. I love Des and have defended him profusely over the past few years, but I am slowly becoming convinced that at this point, he is what he is. He just does not flash enough patience at the plate to be anything more than a 7/8 hitter. His defense is solid, but I still believe Espinosa would be a better defensive (and offensive) SS. I love watching Desi run the bases, but he simply doesn't get on base enough to do so. I see the talent and he always shows flashes, but I can't see him lasting as the starter (at least in DC) unless he can figure some way to have an approach at the plate.

  2. I don't think representing the pole is something that should be done on a safe for work blog, but here goes:

    I feel like I almost have to have fanatical support of Ian in response to some of the fervent dislike he seems to accrue. The fielding errors are ugly, early season leadoff wasn't any prettier and he's "blocking" a popular guy in Espinosa, and to a lesser degree Lombardozzi.

    Yet, to break open the cliche jar, he plays hard and has the athleticism to not force me to gag when I use the phrase playing the right way (as in, Jamey Carroll plays the right way).

    It appeared he figured things out hitting leadoff in September, and it's almost frustrating to see the season end, because he could so easily lose it come Spring Training.

    I think when the team does make the playoffs (and i sure hope that happens soon), they will be glad they hung on to Desmond and let him develop into a just-below all-star level. Hey, I said fanatical, not completely off the rails crazy.

  3. As long as he continues to progress then I am fine with him. He is a passionate, dedicated ballplayer and seems like a good teammate. We could do worse. I think he will end up having been a solid major leaguer - he won't light the stat world on fire, but fans will remember him. Ever see him with the kid fans? They adore him.

  4. He's the whole reason I started watching baseball. I couldn't imagine the Nats without him.

  5. One thing separates Desi from being a solid plus player, and that is Strikeout-itis (which could be said of half the Nats' lineup, frankly). We depend upon our mid-infield and CF players to be pesky bat-control, make-contact types. I hope Davey, et al, are emphasizing this with him.

    In the field, he has plus range and athleticism, but an iron glove. There are signs of hope, though.

    Off the field, he is one of the most community oriented guys on the team. A mensch!

    He will be challenged this year with Espy a lock at either middle infield position, and Lombo getting a shot to prove himself a starter. I am intrigued by the suggestions of Desi in CF, an experiment well worth trying.

    The bottom line for me is that this year should be Desi's make or break year. So far he has been ever so slightly shy of being a piece of a contending team.