Is Ian Desmond The N.L.'s Emerging "Power Hitter?"
Ian Desmond has bowed out of the All Star Game, but there isn’t any doubt that that’s where he belongs. He now leads all MLB shortstops in doubles (24), home runs (with 17), and is second in OPS— at .820. Desmond has hit four home runs in his last six games, and one each in the last two . . .
Desmond is one of the reasons that Washington leads the National League in doubles, an statistic that seems oddly appropriate with the Rockies winging their way out of town. The Heltons have traditionally been a doubles machine (Helton has 567 of them in his sixteen years), which is at least partly attributable to the thin air and long alleys of Coors Field . . .
While Washington leads the league in doubles, Colorado has the lead in home runs, at 102 — which isn’t that much of a surprise, as Nationals fans have observed. The Nats have launched 89 round trippers, which places them fifth in that category. And remember: this was a team that, it was once said, desperately needed hitting.
Just to put this in some kind of perspective: Desmond is tied for sixth in home runs this year with Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez — who’s a fricking ICBM — and has hit more home runs than either Matt Holliday or Joey Votto, and more than Dan Uggla or Hanley Ramirez.
So . . . ? So, for those pundits and analysts who say that the Nationals “could use another bat,” the statistics (let alone the team’s place in the standings) seem to suggest otherwise. Then too, with Stephen Strasburg on what appears to be a very strict innings count (which, from recent reports, the team will stick to), the Nationals may well soon call up John Lannan or even look for another arm . . .
Even were the Nationals to get someone like Denard Span (and the rumors continue to swirl) or Peter Bourjos (who needs playing time for the suddenly outfield-flush Halos) where exactly would they put them? Either Span or Bourjos would look good in center, but the arrival of either of them would shove Harper to right and Morse to left — while giving the quartet of Bernadina, Ankiel, Moore (and perhaps especially Moore) and Lombardozzi fewer at bats. Then too, the return of Jayson Werth would require even tougher decisions . . .
More importantly, as Desmond’s first half surge has shown, the Nationals aren’t desperate for more power or more hitting. They’ve proven they have both, which is as surprising to some as the fact that they remain firmly planted atop the N.L. East.