Washington Nationals Analysis: Ian Desmond Finding His Form While Batting 2nd
By Ricky Keeler
Coming into the 2015 season, the Washington Nationals had a few key players heading into their contract years. One of those players that has been under a very big microscope this season is shortstop Ian Desmond. If Desmond were to enter free agency this winter, he would be by far the best shortstop on the open market. He got off to a rough start in April, but he is staring to find his form at the plate and in the field.
The 29-year-old is currently on a ten game hit streak after reaching via an infield single in the first inning of yesterday’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. Over the course of those ten games, he is 13-for-40 (.325) with two home runs and seven RBI’s.
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After hitting a dismal .217 in April with a .287 on-base percentage, Desmond is hitting .279 in the month of May with three home runs and nine RBI’s. His 24 hits this month are tied for third on the team with Denard Span. They both trail Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar, who are tied with 28.
One of the things you have to give Matt Williams credit for in the early stages of 2015 is that he moved Desmond to the number two spot in the order with Anthony Rendon injured. When Rendon back, it remains to be seen whether or not Desmond stays in that spot in the order.
However, the Nats shortstop is hitting .311 in 22 games when hitting in the two spot in the batting order. When he has hit in the number six and seven spots, he has hit .147 and .213 respectively. Again, it is a small sample size, but it is something to keep an eye on.
Despite Desmond’s great success of late at the plate, there are some stats that are a little bit alarming. For one, he has had a difficult time coming up with the big hits with runners in scoring position. In those situations, he is 6-for-42, which is a .143 batting average.
On Monday, he had two chances to move runners over or drive in the runner that was in scoring position. In the top of the fifth, with Roark on third and one out, Desmond struck out looking. Then, in the seventh, with Michael Taylor on third and two outs, Desmond flew out to left.
Ian Desmond has made a good case to stay in the number two spot for now, but if he wants to stay there for the full season, he has to be able to play small ball and get those runners over, at the very least. That being said, it is great to see that the Nats shortstop is starting to find his swing and is joining in on the hot streak that most of these Washington hitters are on right now.