Washington Nationals: Trea Turner has eclipsed Ian Desmond as best shortstop
Even though he has spent just under half the time as Ian Desmond at the position, Trea Turner has eclipsed him as the Washington Nationals best shortstop.
I was filtering through the District on Deck archives the other day and ran across this beauty: Best Shortstops in Nationals History. This piece was published the year Trea Turner debuted on the scene for the Nationals, and the final year Ian Desmond would call Washington home.
Taking a drive down memory lane with “Rolls” Royce Clayton and Felipe Lopez was nice. I do agree Cristian Guzman would have taken runner-up to Desmond at the time of this writing. They both have now been passed by Trea Turner, who should hold the title as the best shortstop in Washington Nationals history.
A check back at the seven years Desmond roamed the left side of the Nats infield, showed just how important he was to the offensive production of those division winning teams.
When the Nationals won the National League East for the first time, Desmond hit .292 with 25 home runs. He was an All-Star that year and picked up the first of what would become three Silver Slugger Awards
Desmond was a 20/20 man three times and played 154 or more games in five of his six full seasons (excluding his September call-up season of 2009). In 2013 and 2014 Desmond had 114 extra-base hits and 171 runs batted in.
Desmond struck out too much and he booted the ball quite often in the field. Taking out Desmond’s 2009 season where he appeared in just 21 games, he averaged nearly 24 errors a season with the Nationals. Turner has committed just 43 errors total in his five years playing shortstop.
Turner has a lifetime .296 batting average (sure, he hit .342 while playing over 70 games at second base and center field in 2016) and his .833 OPS is almost 100 points higher than when Desmond played in Washington.
Where Desmond drove in runs, Turner scores runs, making him just as important to the offense. The home runs Turns lacks, he makes up for in stolen bases.
Turner has missed going 20/20 twice in his career, hitting 19 home runs both years. He was on pace this year, had the season gone more than 60 games.
Desmond accumulated a WAR of 16.5 in his time in DC, and Turner comes in at 16.2, in nearly 400 less games.
In two postseason appearances Desmond didn’t hit a home run or account for an RBI. Turner has put up better numbers, and of course has the World Series ring on his finger.
I do believe it is close, though looking at the whole body of work including offense, defense, postseason, and what each player meant to their team at the time, Trea Turner has edged out Ian Desmond for the best shortstop in Washington Nationals history.