The Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies to win the series today, and are probably getting ready to fly to Cleveland for a weekend set with the Cleveland Indians. The series win is, in large part, thanks to Ian Desmond, who now owns a 15-game hit streak to go along with his 4-4 day with an RBI and a Run scored. In the series, Desmond was 7-10 with five RBI, two walks, one stolen base and a strikeout, raising his average from .277 going into the series up to .293.
Washington scored 13 runs in the series, five of them thanks to Desmond. The past year and a half, Desmond has been almost irreplaceable, which is shocking, especially if you got back two full seasons, to 2011.
Desmond was a shadow of the player he is now in 2011, finished the year at .253/.298/.358 with 8 Home Runs and 49 RBIs, and looked like a placeholder for Danny Espinosa or perhaps Washington’s next Center Fielder. 2012, however, was about as night and day as it gets, as Desmond, well, had what the young people call a “breakout season.” Desmond finished 2012 going .292/.335/.511 with 25 Home Runs and 73 RBIs. Desmond was voted to his first All-Star Team, though he did not play in the game. All Desmond did was change his stance slightly and was put in the middle of Washington’s lineup, where he was able to drive in runs.
Desmond’s 2012 offensive ranks among NL Shortstops fall no lower than third, which is his RBI total, every other stat is good for first or second in the NL. As far as Major League Qualifying Shortstops are concerned, Desmond’s lowest rank is fifth, with is his On-Base Percentage. Think about that; a player that was essentially a nobody in 2011 is now considered one of the league’s elite Shortstops, and a top-five offensive player in not only the National League, but the Major Leagues. What does all this mean, you ask? That answer is quite simple.
Desmond is lined up for a fat, juicy payday. The better question is: when will Desmond get that payday? Washington is not an organization of knee-jerk reactions, as they waited out Adam LaRoche until the beginning of January, a player a lot of people thought Washington needed to sign desperately for fear of being plucked up by another team, so the Nationals are not going to open the bank just yet. My guess is that if Desmond puts up similar numbers to 2012, and I think it’s safe to say he’ll do that, barring injury, Washington will try and lock him up after their season ends, whenever that may be. Remember, Washington has a lot of players that will be free agents soon. Washington needs to lock up guys like Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and later on Bryce Harper.
As of right now, Washington is probably going to have to start negotiations with Desmond and Zimmermann, as both of them look like they are headed for career years. But Washington needs to lock up Desmond now, because by the time he hits Free Agency in 2016, he may be too expensive for the Nationals. Today’s teams are doing everything they can to sign their star players young.
Washington needs to follow suit, and Desmond is just the tip of the iceberg.