The last remaining link to the Washington Nationals days in Montreal is now an all-star shortstop coming off of his best season. After nine years with the organization, Ian Desmond has finally solidified his spot on the team and hopes that his 2012 performance is only the beginning.
Desmond was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 2004. He was in the minors when the team moved to Washington in 2005. In 2010, he became the Nationals everyday shortstop. In 2011, he was paired for the first time with shortstop turned second baseman Danny Espinosa. In 2012, Desmond had a career year offensively as he batted .292 with 25 home runs and 73 RBI. This was enough for him to earn a trip to the All-Star game which he did not play in due to an oblique injury. The injury could not stop Desmond from winning his first NL Silver Slugger Award as he led all shortstops in the major batting categories.
On defense, Desmond had a good year as he finished with 15 errors and a .970 fielding percentage. Defense has been the knock on him since he arrived in Washington, but the Nationals feel that with experience the errors will decline.
Washington hopes that 2012 was the year Desmond finally got himself on track physically and mentally. The Nationals have always believed that he has the talent. It is his dedication that worries them. Washington has been patient in bringing Desmond along knowing that he is a talent. They could have easily let him go and moved Espinosa to short. However, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo believes that Desmond is a shortstop that will play solid defense and put up good power numbers. Rizzo does not want to see him blossom somewhere else.
If the Nationals are to get back to the post season and challenge for a championship, they will need Desmond to put up the same numbers as he did last season. Before 2012, he had always shown that the power was there, but was unable to hit for average. Washington tried Desmond in the lead off spot a couple of times and though he led them in steals last year with 21, the Nationals did not think that he was the right fit. Desmond now hits at the bottom of the lineup where he is capable of driving in runs or starting a rally.
It was nice to see Desmond finally have the season Washington brass expected of him last year. It must have come as a relief to him and the organization.
Now it is time for Desmond to stay healthy and improve on the career year he had in 2012.