Back in spring training, there was talk that Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond could lose some playing time to utility player Steve Lombardozzi, with Lombardozzi playing second base and starting second baseman Danny Espinosa moving over to play shortstop.
Well, Desmond had other plans. His plans included putting up the best year of his career in 2012. Hitting more home runs and hitting for a higher batting average than many had predicted. How much better? Let's take a look at his career stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
|162 Game Avg.||162||602||73||163||33||5||17||71||23||7||35||132||.271||.313||.426||.739||99||256|
Desmond is hitting .291-.333-.513 with 25 home runs, 71 runs, 72 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 27 attempts this season. Coming into the season, Desmond had 22 career home runs in almost 1,100 at bats, and this season, he has hit 25 long balls in just under 500 at bats. He leads all shortstops in home runs, is 9th in runs scored, third in RBI, second in batting average, and 6th in stolen bases.
In addition, he has set career highs in home runs, runs scored, RBI, batting average (BA), on base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (SLG) and isolated power (ISO). To top it off, he joined the 20-20 Club. The 20-20 Club includes players who hit 20+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases in the same season.
This season, the 20-20 Club includes the following players:
Mike Trout, LAA
Ryan Braun, MIL
Jimmy Rollins, PHI
B.J. Upton, TB
Alex Rios, CHW
Ian Desmond, WAS
Andrew McCutchen, PIT
Jason Heyward, ATL
Carlos Gonzalez, COL
Hanley Ramirez, LAD
Desmond is in great company judging by the names included in the list above. Trout, Braun, Gonzalez and Ramirez are considered some of the best fantasy hitters in the game, and Desmond is in select company. But, fantasy owners will have to decide whether this season is something we can count on going forward, or is it just a career year, and will he disappoint in 2013.
As for the speed, the stolen base totals are repeatable as he stole 25 bases last season, so we can expect the stolen base total to remain in the 20-25 range for the next few seasons. The power is where we have questions. As stated above, Desmond had hit just 22 home runs in his career heading into the 2012 season.
Looking at his batted ball data over at FanGraphs, we see that he is hitting more fly balls this season:
2011: 17.5% LD, 51.9% GB, 30.5% FB, 6.0% HR/FB
2012: 17.9% LD, 47.8% GB, 34.3% FB, 18.9% HR/FB
As you can see, he HR/FB rate has tripled this season, from 6.0% in 2011 to 18.9% this season, partly due to his increase in fly balls from 30.5% to 34.3%. You can also attribute some of the increase in power to the increase in his batting average of balls in play (BABIP) from .317-.332.
Looking at his home run data over at Hit Tracker Online, 11 of his 25 home runs would have left all 30 big league ballparks, but only three of them were considered "No Doubt". Eight of his home runs were considered "Just Enough".
Strange but True Fact: 24 of his 25 home runs were hit in either Nationals Ball Park, Citizens Bank Park , Coors Field or Citi Field.
So, can Desmond repeat the 25 home run power in 2013? I will lean no right now, as he might be the Asdrubal Cabrera of 2012, meaning he is a guy who comes out of nowhere to hit 20+ home runs, while hitting more home runs in one season than he has in his career.
What do Fake Teams readers think?