MLB 100 Part II: Ian Desmond-New Outfield Sensation or More of the Same?

Media Raves About a Three-Time Silver Slugger Award-Winner’s Comeback Year

Photo Courtesy of ESPN-Ian Desmond Player Profile

We’re over 100 Games into the MLB season, and SABIU’s new Co-Director of R&D, Steven Campbell, is taking us on a 10-part journey through some of the MLB’s biggest surprises and disappointments. Be sure to check in daily as Steven updates his MLB 100 series.

Welcome back to Part Two of the MLB 100 series. Now, let’s talk about those WAR leaders from the first article. Looking over that list of mostly usual suspects, do any names pop out to you? The name you have heard over and over again on most sports talk shows this year is Ian Desmond. But, should his 3.6 WAR really come as a shocking surprise to everyone?

The answer is no. As the season began, I was getting really sick of hearing all the Ian Desmond talk. Is he a good player? Yes. Is that news to anyone who paid any attention the last five years? No. Sure, the move from middle infield to center field is a pretty tough move to make. But are the expectations at the plate any different? Of course not.

Don’t get me wrong: Ian Desmond certainly is having a career year by nearly every measure available. But, this is by no means a coming out party for Desmond. So at this point, I’m just thankful the mass media’s attention has shifted from his performance being a surprise to the fact that he’s in for a serious payday soon. Just because he has one bad year last year doesn’t mean his hopes of being a top 10 player at his position are over. He’s only 30 years old, after all.

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers over his career as an everyday player:

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 3.00.48 PM

Last year in the worst year of his seven-year career as an everyday guy, Desmond was hitting in the six or seven spot for more than two-thirds of the season in Washington. We are talking about a guy who was a three-time Silver Slugger winner from 2012-2014 being set up by guys like Clint Robinson in a majority of games after the All-Star break. With Bryce Harper having an MVP season in the heart of the order too: I mean seriously, what do you expect?

Meanwhile, now in Texas among another lineup full of power bats, Desmond is having a career year. Why? Well, for the first month of the season Desmond hit fifth, directly behind Prince Fielder who had one of the worst starts of his career (Slash line—AVG/OBP/SLG: .212/.292/.334) before being placed on the DL in mid-July. That poor performance left Desmond with plenty of opportunities to produce runs.

From mid-May through the first week following the All-Star break, Desmond consistently hit in the two spot behind a combination of mainly Roughned Odor (2B, TEX) and Jurickson Profar (3B, TEX). With Shin-Soo Choo (RF, TEX) getting on base at a .372 rate for a short stint before a recent trip back to the DL, Profar reaching base at a .351 rate and Odor at a .798 OPS, it’s no wonder why Desmond has owned pitchers like he hasn’t before. (Note: OPS is a combination of on-base percentage and slugging percentage. On-base percentage measures the percentage of at-bats in which a player successfully reaches base. Slugging percentage measures the average number of total bases a player hits for in each at-bat).

Since July 22nd, Desmond has been a lock in the three spot of the Rangers order. So, Rangers fans can only hope those career highs will only climb from being right at the heart of the order, whether it’s in the three spot or elsewhere. Here is a look at what the Rangers will have in store tonight against the Baltimore Orioles, as their new acquisitions will be in the lineup for the first time:

I personally expect Desmond to hover between the two and six spots of the order, so look for him to add to what has been a career year thus far.

The Rangers are red hot once again, winning seven of their last 10 games as of August 1st. They are right in the mix in the AL, as they have been more often than not since 2010. The three-time Silver Slugger award-winning Ian Desmond is back, so, don’t be fooled by last year. Plus, with the major additions of Carlos Beltran (DH/RF, TEX/NYY) and Jonathan Lucroy (C, TEX/MIL) this lineup will only continue to get better. Many consider the Rangers the big winners of this year’s trade deadline, but make no mistake that the offseason acquisition of Ian Desmond has proven to be equally important.

Now that this brief case study is complete, I look forward to breaking down some of the biggest surprises and disappointments through the trade deadline. You can expect a similar breakdown of player performances. Until then, go Cubs go.

Signing Off,

Steven J



Coming Soon:

On Deck: Biggest Busts: Has Been’s—Relief Pitcher Edition (Expected Release Date: 8/3)

In the Hole: Surprise, Surprise: New Faces—Relief Pitcher Edition (Expected Release Date: 8/3)

Posted in MLB

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