The Federal Baseball readers wanted to know back in May why it was that Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman had Ian Desmond, the Nationals' 24-year-old rookie infielder, batting down in the order more often than he appeared near the top. After first correctly pointing out that Desmond had hit in several spots in the order, (at the time Desmond had started 6 games batting second, 5 batting sixth and 7 each in the seventh and eighth spot), Mr. Riggleman acknowledged that in part, "... it's a product really of who else is in the lineup that day," with Adam Kennedy, Cristian Guzman and Nyjer Morgan then seeing a lot of time at the top of the order, but Riggleman also made it clear at the time that he understood Desmond was, "certainly not going to play his career out hitting eighth," and RIggleman speculated that in the future, the Expos' '04 3rd Round pick out of Sarasota, Florida would eventually, "...hit higher in the lineup, and he might end up being a second hitter."
William Yoder, who runs The Nats Blog.com (@TheNatsBlog) noted Saturday night on Twitter how Ian Desmond, who went 4 for 5 with 2 runs scored in the Nats' 8-1 win over Philadelphia, "...really is starting to get some confidence in his game isn't he? Really getting in a groove." I sent a quick response out while watching the game mentioning that to me it seemed, "Desmond's hitting cause it's not the steady diet of junk he got hitting 8th..." and about the same time Nats Insider.com's Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) sent a tweet about Desmond out which noted, "Ian Desmond now hitting .347 when batting 2nd. As an 8-hitter: .254." Desmond was clearly drawing attention to himself with his success at the plate...and it's nice to talk about something other than his errors.
When I asked Ian Desmond in an interview earlier this season if his approach was any different when he hit eighth, second or anywhere else in the order, Desmond said, "No," for him, "It's the same. I just try to have a good solid at bat every time I get up there," but with Guzman traded to Texas, Desmond's seen more regular at bats in the two-spot, in 99 AB's, the first-year shortstop's put up a .364/.400/.556 line with 8 doubles, 3 HR's, 11 RBI's and 8 steals batting second and a .397/.446/.559 line since August 1st following Guzman's trade to the Rangers. In 24 games and 94 AB's hitting seventh, Desmond's posted a .289/.290/.433 line. In 39 games and 148 at bats hitting eighth, Desmond's hit for a .254 AVG with a .304 OBP and a .388 SLG.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson spoke to the Nats' Skipper about Desmond's success batting second in an article this weekend entitled, "Desmond fitting in at second slot in order", and the Nats' manager said that he didn't regret allowing Desmond to work his way up:
"Earlier in the year, to ask Desmond to come out of Spring Training as a rookie and produce like that, it would have been asking a lot. It's still a work in progress. We'll see what the future holds. Certainly, he looks more comfortable there."
Desmond looks better there and the numbers support it, reminds me of the DC GM Mike Rizzo saying how he certainly considered sabermetric/statistical analysis in his evaluation of the Nats' talent, but, as he told a group of internet writers after being named the full-time GM, "...I trust what I see more than what I read, but it's always nice when what I read corresponds to what I think I see." I think it's clear any way you look at it that Desmond's found his spot in the order.