In the Washington Nationals’ 7-4 win Sunday afternoon against the Miami Marlins, Nats shortstop Ian Desmond went 1-for-1 and three walks. Yesterday’s game was just a small indicator of Desmond’s success in the second half of the season.
After hitting .211/.255/.334 with seven home runs, five stolen bases, 17 walks, and 99 strikeouts in 84 games before the All-Star Break, Desi has put up a .288/.342/.541 slash line while slugging 10 home runs, stealing 7 bases, drawing 12 walks, and striking out 46 times in his last 40 games.
This month, Desmond’s 18 RBI’s are second on the team, behind only Ryan Zimmerman (24) and his .309 batting average is second behind Bryce Harper, who is hitting .337. Desmond now has 17 home runs and 12 stolen bases this season, which puts him on the right path towards a fourth consecutive 20/20 season.
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The one thing that stood out about Desmond the most in Sunday afternoon’s matinee, however, was his three bases on balls. All three of them were drawn on full counts and two of the walks were drawn against Marlins’ starter, Brad Hand. The 29-year-old’s increased patience at the plate has been his most obvious adjustment at the plate of late as he has been laying back on pitches early in the count. Known for feasting off the first pitch, Desmond has not had much luck swinging early in counts this season. More often than not, he was putting himself in an 0-1 hole right off the bat.
Entering the final stretch of what will most likely be his last season in a Washington uniform, Ian Desmond will hit free agency at the age of 30, which is right in the middle of his prime. Having reportedly turned down a seven-year, $107 million contract prior to the 2014 season, a huge finish to this season could save his chances of securing a better deal with another team the winter. While it does not seem likely that a team would just consider his first half an anomaly and agree to a larger deal with the shortstop, it certainly could end up being a legitimate conversation.
The 2015 season will still probably be considered a down year for the former Silver Slugger, even if he does reach the 20/20 plateau. However, if the Nats can somehow pull out a miraculous run and overtake the Mets to win the NL East and reach the postseason, the Nats’ long time shortstop will certainly be playing an intricate role during the final month or so of the season.