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Nats Ian Desmond an ‘undeserving’ big leaguer?
It’s been a quiet offseason for Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, despite speculation regarding him and a contract extension, and one writer projecting a Hall of Fame plaque some day. We caught up with Desmond in November at Matt Williams’ introductory press conference, but have heard little since.
The interview has a ton of great stuff in it, so it’s worth checking out in its entirety. There are, however, two quotes worth highlighting. Desmond goes into how he doesn’t play for money and how money is nowhere near his biggest concern. He gets pretty detailed, but here is one passage that stands out:
Look, I’m probably one of the most undeserving big leaguers there is. I’m in the big leagues by the grace of God. [I put] on a uniform every day and play baseball — the game that I love. Would I like to play for the Nationals for the rest of my career? Absolutely. If something happens and if I get traded, that’s life and it’s a business. It’s sometimes a harsh pill to swallow, but life goes on. I have two kids and a wife. They have to eat. I love playing baseball more than anything.
Desmond is one of the more humble professional athletes you will ever encounter, especially for one who’s experienced the success he has in the last few years. It appears, though, Desmond’s path to stardom has played a role in all of that.
Drafted by the Expos in 2004, Desmond didn’t reach the big leagues until 2009. And it wasn’t until 2012 did he break out and reach the potential that made him a third round pick. Now, two Silver Sluggers later, Desmond is among the best in his position in baseball. That’s enough to dispute his ‘most undeserving’ claim, with all due respect.
Desmond showed 2012 was no fluke last season with another strong year. In 158 games he posted 20 home runs, 80 RBI, 77 runs, 21 stolen bases and a .784 OPS. He ranked near the top among shortstops in practically every offensive category.
But though Desmond won a Silver Slugger in 2013, he feels he could have been much better. He also told MLB.com this:
The numbers were nice, but last year was a grind for me. I never really felt, at any point during the season, that I had my swing.
If that’s what Desmond can do while searching for his swing, his best may be yet to come.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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