The Nationals’ offense is getting little love from the All Star Game voters thus far in the season. When the MLB last released voting statistics, no Nat was in the top 5 for his position. To be fair, the Nationals are in the bottom third of nearly every offensive category in the MLB, but at least one player has to be in the top 3 at his position, right?
That player is Ian Desmond. A weak crop of NL shortstops combined with a strong year for Desmond means that Desmond certainly deserves All-Star consideration, and the stats back him up.
Desmond, despite his on-base difficulties, has been among the strongest sluggers this season at a position where power is rare. Among shortstops with 200+ plate appearances, he has the most extra-base hits, with 27. He also leads that group in doubles, ahead of speedsters like Jose Reyes and Starlin Castro. He is second in home runs, trailing only Houston’s Jed Lowrie, and is third in both slugging percentage and isolated power. Additionally, he is second in RBI and fifth in runs scored, both of which are feats in themselves given the lineup around him. Desmond ranks highly across the board in power-related statistics, and certainly stakes his claim to be the best power hitter among NL shortstops.
While getting on base and hitting for average are not Desmond’s strengths, he does them well enough that, given his power, he should make the All-Star team. Among the eleven NL shortstops from the previous data set, Desmond is seventh in batting average at .266 and ninth in OBP and walks. These numbers are less than impressive, but despite them, he still ranks fifth in OPS, which is on-base percentage plus slugging percentage. His relatively high OPS ranking in comparison to his OBP ranking demonstrates the fact that his power numbers compensate for his subpar ability to hit singles and draw walks.
In all, while Desmond’s season is not incredible, his power and a generally weak field make him a rightful All-Star at short for the NL. Looking at Desmond, his .266/.295/.444 line does not exactly jump out at you. If you delve deeper, however, you see that his power is among the NL’s best at the position, and also notice that other players in general have faltered. Mainstay Troy Tulowitzki has struggled with injuries, and other stars such as Reyes and Jimmy Rollins have not hit as expected. These developments, along with Desmond’s great power and adequate hitting, make him a strong candidate to make the All-Star game, regardless of what the voters have said.