Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez with about two posts per week until Spring Training. Enjoy.
If someone told you that a player who committed 57 errors and recorded a slash-line of .260/.303/.375 between 2010 and 2011 would be nominated for a Gold Glove, win a Silver Slugger, be selected to play in the All-Star Game, and potentially be the Washington Nationals’ MVP for the year they recorded the best record in baseball, you probably would have flatly called that person crazy.
But that is exactly the road that shortstop Ian Desmond has taken with the Nationals, from his first two full seasons in the majors to the season that earned him a GIBBY nomination for Breakout Hitter of the Year.
Of the Nationals qualified hitters, Desmond claimed the highest batting average (.292), slugging percentage (.511), most stolen bases (21) and fewest strikeouts (113). Aside from the strikeouts, which ticked up slightly from 2010 but were significantly lower than 2011, those numbers were all also career-bests for Desmond through a complete season. He also notched career-bests for runs scored (72), doubles (33), home runs (25) and RBI (73).
And the list of accolades goes on. Desmond was the only National to record a 20-20 season, despite being put on the DL with an oblique injury for nearly a month, and in perhaps one of his most distinguishing contributions to the team last season, Desmond was the Nationals’ most reliable hitter through the playoffs (going 7-for-19). Only Ryan Zimmerman recorded better numbers than he did with a comparable number of postseason at-bats.
Desmond’s proclivity to swing at the first pitch drew criticism from some who wanted to see him be more patient – he only walked 30 times all year – but as his success at the plate became more consistent, the critics became content to just watch as Desi hit three home runs and 11 doubles, and batted in 12 runs on the first pitch.
Desmond finished the year with an overall slash-line of .292/.335/.511, and was owner to several clutch moments, like his come-from-behind walk-off home run that broke the Nationals out of a five-game losing streak on May 2. The photo of Desmond leaping into a ecstatic group of celebrating teammates came to define the type of exciting season the Nationals played in 2012 and highlighted the impact Desmond had on DC’s favorite team.
Next year: At 27 years old, Desmond has plenty of years left in what promises to be an exciting career, and at least three of those years will be played in Washington. With Desmond under team control until 2016, Nationals fans can expect to see many more exciting moments produced by talented shortstop.
Up next: #21 Xavier Nady