Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Profiles: Ian Desmond

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Every owner associated with fantasy baseball looks to fill their middle infield positions with players who can hit for power. This strategy has a problem — there is a scarcity of power producing players at these positions. If you want one of the elite middle infielders like Robinson Cano, Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez you will have to pay with a high draft pick.

This will leave you on draft day staring at Ian Desmond, overjoyed that he has fallen into your lap. You don’t hear his name mentioned very often as a top tier middle infielder. But when you dig into his numbers he produces numbers that are every bit as good as the middle infielders that are taken several rounds ahead of him.

Before the 2012 season, you wouldn’t have gone anywhere near Ian Desmond on draft day unless you were filling out your roster in the late rounds of your draft. Who wants a player who hits .253 the year before with single digit homeruns? Not to mention he had the plate discipline of a wild animal let out of its cage for the first time.

Once 2012 rolled around, a transformation happened to Ian Desmond’s young career. He actually started to not only hit well but do things at the plate he had not shown his entire professional career. His statistics surged across the board in every major category the past two seasons.

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

. AVG

2011

639

65

8

49

25

.253

2012

547

72

25

73

21

.292

2013

655

77

20

80

21

.280

At the same time, he had a career high 145 strikeout’s this past season to go along with only 43 walks in 2013. His walk rate hovers around 6%, which is not what you want to see if you are in a league that counts on base percentage. These numbers should not scare you away because he is aggressive at the plate.

His approach to hitting changed in 2012, which is why he is putting up all-star caliber numbers with a K/BB% that should have him on the fringes of a major league team.

He looks to be aggressive and hit early in the count to counter pitchers setting him up with pitches outside of the strike zone that he will chase when he is behind in a two strike situation. Pitcher’s know they can become aggressive early. This plays right into Ian Desmond’s wheelhouse because he looks to hit first or second pitch aggressiveness.

The numbers below show the advantage he has hitting early as opposed to getting deep into the count where the opposing pitcher has a large advantage because of his free swinging ways.

By count

. AVG

By count

. AVG

0-0

.385

0-2

.111

0-1

.319

1-2

.175

1-0

.306

3-1

.250

1-1

.353

3-2

.132

2-0

.474

2-1

.393

When Ian Desmond is aggressive early in the count he puts up extremely favorable numbers. When he has seen four pitches or more, or is behind in the count his hitting style becomes a detriment.

Early in his career he used a cautious approach allowing pitchers to get ahead of him in an at-bat. He did not try to take advantage by hitting aggressively and making solid contact as he does now.

His stock continues to be on the rise because of position scarcity and unique skillset. If he played in Boston or New York, he would be compared to the best hitting infielders in the game. Because he doesn’t get as much exposure playing for the Nationals he becomes a draft day steal.

If you want to target a player that you should absolutely have on your team at any cost it is Ian Desmond. Even if you have to overpay for him a little you will be getting a huge value based on his average draft position. Players with his skillset are few and far between at his position. He is one of my must own players for 2014 and he should be one of yours also.

Topics: Ian Desmond, MI, Middle Infielders, Shortstop, SS, Washington Nationals

Want more from Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • http://fantasybaseballcrackerjacks.com/ Clave

    Good analysis on Desmond. Most people miss that he had undergone an intentional change in approach at the plate. By now he’s had 1000 PA to prove that the change in approach for real.

    I’ll be drafting him if I can.

TEAMFeed More Fantasy Baseball news from the Fansided Network

Dear Mr. Fantasy Podcast: April 21, 2014

Fantasy Baseball Stats: Daily All-Stars from April 22

Six Effective Strategies for April

Hot on the Web From golf.com