Do not let his batting average fool you.
Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is the most underrated hitter in their lineup.
Yes, Desmond is hitting a disappointing .239 as of Sunday, July 6. That is far below his career batting average of .270. But, it’s not all about hitting for average. Desmond produces in ways that many of his teammates cannot.
The shortstop has more plate appearances than any other batter in the lineup. Being on a team that is winning as of late, Desmond must be doing something productive with those 330 at-bats. Desmond leads the Nationals in terms of runs-batted-in with 53. If that isn’t enough, that 53 leads all shortstops in the majors for RBIs. Despite being more inconsistent in his at-bats this season, Desmond is making the most out of the at-bats that he does get on base with.
Desmond leads the Nationals in home runs with 15. That is among the top-25 MLB leaders in the category. He can hit for power, proving it with his home runs and a respectable .424 slugging-percentage.
While Desmond hit .292 in the Nationals’ fantastic 2012 season, he is currently on pace to pass almost all of his hitting categories, except for average. The batting average will come, though. Nationals manager Matt Williams has to let the shortstop play himself back to that point. Desmond hits for power, knows how to score with men on base, and can create scoring situations as he is on pace to have 20 stolen bases for the fourth time in his career.
If you didn’t vote for Desmond for the National League All-Star team, do not be shocked to see him out there. His batting average is not representative of the impact he has in the lineup. Desmond is one of the premier shortstops in the majors and the Nationals are simply waiting for him to turn into the well-rounded hitter they know he can be.