Jul 7, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) throws to first against the Colorado Rockies during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Where are the Ian Desmond Haters Now?

Since Ian Desmond became the everyday starting shortstop for the Nationals, he has been plagued by a small but vocal minority of Nats fans who disliked him and wanted him off the team. Ian has been criticized for the last three years for his hitting and fielding. For some fans, Ian could do nothing right.

When there were rumors that teams were talking to the Nats in the offseason about trading for Desmond, there were commenters who were lobbying for that to happen–let some other team put up with his errors and terrible average. Ever since Danny Espinosa became the everyday second baseman for the team, there has been constant rumbling by some who wanted the Nats to move Espinosa to short and bring up Steve Lombardozzi to play second. Folks were lobbying for that move last year, and the chatter just got worse early in the season when Lombardozzi made the team.

A funny thing has happened on the way to Desmond being named an All Star this year. The comment sections of the blogs have gradually seen the end of comments by anyone demanding that the Nats get rid of Ian Desmond, or complaining he is not good enough to play on this team. The assertions of the Desmond haters that he’s a terrible player, that he can’t hit, can’t field, and that the team would be better off without him have stopped.

I could never understand the vocal fans who could not see from the very beginning of Desmond’s career with the Nats that he was going to be a very good shortstop and a great player on this team. Desmond, like many young players, has grown into his job. Each year, his average has improved and the number of errors he has committed has gone down. Some of Desmond’s “errors” have been charged to him because of his incredible range. Desmond gets a glove on balls that would go right by most shortstops. If the ball gets past the shortstop without the player getting a glove on it, it’s a hit. If the shortstop gets a glove on the ball but can’t field it cleanly, it is often scored as an error. That happens to Desmond–he knocks down balls that other shortstops would not be able to get to.

Ian has become the captain of the infield. This team would follow Desmond into a fire if that is where he lead them. Christian Guzman, the former Nats shortshop, couldn’t have gotten his teammates to follow him to the buffet.

I hope that the Desmond haters out there have finally been converted. The blog chat seems to indicate that they have.

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Tags: Danny Espinosa Ian Desmond Nationals Washington Nationals

  • Brian McKeever

    There were also a lot of Espinosa haters who wanted to sit him down earlier this year. Young players struggle and need time to master the game at the MLB level. Anyone looking at both of them objectively can see that they each have power, speed, great range and a great arm: in other words all of the attributes you want in a middle infielder. The only knock is that neither is a high OBP guy and they strike out too much.

    Lombo is also a great player, but he doesn’t have the same amount of pop in his bat nor quite as good a range. He could easily start at 2B for many teams in the league, just not this one right now. Worrying about getting Lombo enough at bats in a super utility role is a great problem to have.

  • Hopeful Skeptic

    I was one of those “Desmond Haters” going into this year. I saw that there was plenty of potential for the young shortstop but there were holes in his game as well. He showed some early signs of power in the minors and his first major league callups. However, he also showed some poor plate discipline.
    The poor plate discipline was not a big deal when Desmond looked like a future electric defensive shortstop with strong power. However, when his defense continued to be an issue and his power was slow to develop, the problem was much more glaring. As of last year, the trends were showing that Desmond might not be much more than a singles hitter. This year, he has shown the potential to be more than that.
    If Desmond’s power is legit then he’s an All-Star and should be locked up. However, I’m not completely sold. I’m not convinced that the Nats NEED to move him but I’m not sure that I would be afraid to do so. I don’t think Lombo is a long term solution at 2nd (another slap hitter but he doesn’t strike out) but I do think that Espinosa can be a long term solution at short. If the Nats have another 2nd baseman (I don’t believe that Rendon is an option there) I wouldn’t mind seeing them leverage Desmond’s increased value into a stud pitcher or center fielder. I’d just like to see a BIG return if they were going to move him.
    Us “haters” didn’t hate the ballplayer. We hated what we were seeing from him. He showed us something different and I think we are all happy if we were wrong. We never rooted against Desmond, we just didn’t have faith he’d do this. Now that he’s doing well, I hope he continues to provide the Nats value either on the field or in a trade.

  • NatsNut

    Where are all the haters? I’m right here. Man did he drive me nuts last year, as did all his supporters, including Riggleman. So yea, this crow I’m eating this year is DELICIOUS. I don’t mind one bit being wrong about that.

  • NatsNut

    And for what it’s worth, no I couldn’t see how great he was from the beginning. All those throws into the camera well, strikeouts and GIDPs got in the way. ;)

  • Andy

    His batting average actually declined each year from 2009-2011, but of course we know what this year has brought thus far!

  • Darlene Langley

    Thanks for the comments. I almost commented on Espinosa’s struggles at the plate since the second half of last year, but I didn’t want to shift the focus of the article. There were plenty of fans out there wanting Espinosa moved to the minors early in the season to work on his batting. Aren’t hearing that right now.

    The improvement in Desmond’s hitting is not so much in his average, it is in the improvement in power and how he has come through this year with runners on.

    When Desmond is added to the roster this weekend I vote for Mark DeRosa to come off the 25 man. Anyone else?

  • Sec314

    Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned. But I have seen the light and repented. (HOWEVER, I still wonder if maybe he and Espi should switch positions)

  • Darlene Langley

    Ok, DeRosa isn’t on the 25 man–how could I forget that he’s on the DL (again). I think I forgot because I keep hearing FP talk about his “veteran leadership” every game and I see him in the dugout during every game.
    Sigh–I just looked at the 25 man roster and my guess is that Tyler Moore is going to be sent to AAA tomorrow when Desmond is activated.