Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman And Ian Desmond Make MLB Network's Top 10 Right Now Lists At Third And Short

Greg Fiume

Washington Nationals' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was ranked fifth amongst third basemen and Ian Desmond was eighth amongst shortstops on the MLB Network's lists of the Top 10 Third Basemen and Shortstops Right Now after both infielders helped the Nats capture the NL East crown in 2012.

The Washington Nationals' 28-year-old, eighth-year third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, finished the 2012 campaign with a .282/.346/.478 line, 36 doubles and 25 HRs in 145 games and 641 plate appearances, over which the '05 1st Round pick was worth +4.5 fWAR. The Nationals' infielder finished sixth overall in Fangraphs.com's Wins Above Replacement amongst third basemen, behind the Milywaukee Brewers' Aramis Ramirez and the Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre, who were tied at +6.5 fWAR, AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, who was at +7.1, the San Diego Padres' Chase Headley at +7.5 and the New York Mets' David Wright, +7.8 fWAR.

The MLB Network revealed their Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now list last night in a one hour show focused on the top hot corner infielders in the majors. Host Brian Kenny also talked to the Bill James and Billy Ripken who presented their own Top 10 lists of the game's best third basemen. For the second straight year, the MLB Network's "Shredder" which, "... uses statistical analysis to measure performance," or, "... looks at a player’s component stats to determine their value and what we might expect of them going forward," as a 2011 Baseball Prospectus' review of the show Clubhouse Confidential explained it, ranked Ryan Zimmerman as the 5th best third baseman in the majors*... right now.

Former major leaguer Billy Ripken had Zimmerman ranked 7th overall on his list of the Top 10 third baseman in the game RIGHT NOW, explaining that he still thinks Zimmerman is, "... a superstar player and a stud," even though he had him down a little low on his list.

"In the second half, he comes in with a .381 on base, slugging .564, and that's after a cortisone shot to the shoulder" Brian Kenny noted, "So maybe that's the real guy, that's the healthy guy." Zimmerman had a .243/.308/.386 line with 16 doubles and eight home runs in 69 games and 308 plate appearances in the first half of the 2012 campaign, but his .319/.381/.564, 20 double, 17 HR second half got him back to what fans in the nation's capital have come to expect out of the franchise's first 1st Round pick, who's put up a .287/.353/.479 line in his career.

"A lot of people thought he would be a consistent 200-hit guy," Bill James said, in ranking Zimmerman 6th overall, "He hasn't become that, but he, obviously, is a premier player."

• Here's the MLB Network's Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now List (I won't spoil Mr. James' or Mr. Ripken's lists in case anyone wants to watch the program):

  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Adrian Beltre
  3. David Wright
  4. Evan Longoria
  5. Ryan Zimmerman
  6. Aramis Ramirez
  7. Chase Headley
  8. Brett Lawrie
  9. David Freese
  10. Pablo Sandoval

While Mr. James, Mr. Ripken and the Shredder seemed to agree on about where (5th-7th) Ryan Zimmerman fits in amongst third basemen in the majors, they had wildly different opinions on Ian Desmond's place amongst shortstops in the game. The MLB Network's Shredder had the Nats' 27-year-old shortstop ranked as the 8th best shortstop in baseball after the four-year veteran's breakout year in the nation's capital.

"[Desmond] was the only regular shortstop that slugged over .500 last year," Brian Kenny explained, "Did it with 25 HRs and 33 doubles and in a fairly offensively neutral park. Desmond also stole 21 bases and going into his age 27 season, he's a big part of the Washington ascendency in the National League. Here's where Desmond ranked last year in the National League: no.1 in batting average (.292) and HRs (25), second in RBIs (73) and on-base-[percentage] (.335)." The '04 Expos' 3rd Round pick had a .292/.335/.511 line in 2012, with 33 doubles, 25 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 130 games and 547 PAs in a +5.4 fWAR season which saw him ranked second overall in the majors in Fangraphs.com's Wins Above Replacement behind only the Tampa Bay Rays' Ben Zobrist (+5.9 fWAR).

• Here's the MLB Network's List of the Top 10 Shortstops Right Now For 2013:

  1. Troy Tulowitzki
  2. Jose Reyes
  3. Starlin Castro
  4. Asdrubal Cabrera
  5. Elvis Andrus
  6. Erick Aybar
  7. Derek Jeter
  8. Ian Desmond
  9. J.J. Hardy
  10. Hanley Ramirez

Desmond didn't make Bill James' list of the Top 10 Shortstops Right Now.

The Nationals shortstop was ranked no.1 overall on Larry Bowa's list, however, with Bowa, who's worked with Desmond personally in the past, praising the Nats' infielder throughout the broadcast. "I've watched this kid mature in the last few years," Bowa said, "And to me, I see strides that he's making that [are] unbelievable. Just the way that he handles himself in the field. Not trying to hurry. Not trying to make a double play ball that's not a double play ball. Being a little bit more selective at the plate. Getting ahead in hitter's counts and hitting balls a long way. He's really matured as an everyday shortstop."

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