May 20, 2010, 2:20 PM EST
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Cristian Guzman isn't producing like a typical bench player.
When Jim Riggleman made the difficult (but correct) decision in late-March to name Ian Desmond his starting shortstop, the odd man out figured to be Cristian Guzman. With Desmond at shortstop and Adam Kennedy at second base, Guzman's at-bats would be few and far between. He'd become a $8 million pinch-hitter and spot starter.
Except, that's not at all how this has played out. As the Nationals enter the second quarter of the season, they are more and more counting on Guzman as one of their top offensive contributors.
Really, you ask? Yes. Just look at the numbers. The man who currently leads the Nats in hits is not named Zimmerman, Dunn, Rodriguez or Morgan. His name is Guzman, and he has 42 hits (four more than anyone else on the roster).
Guzman also ranks third on the Nationals in runs (19), doubles (seven) and, get this, at-bats (128). Only Nyjer Morgan (150) and Adam Dunn (133) have more. At this rate, Guzie will wind up with 512 at-bats this season, only 19 fewer than he had in 2009 when he was the everyday shortstop.
It wasn't supposed to happen this way. Riggleman planned to get Guzman as many plate appearances as possible, but Desmond and Kennedy would get the lion's share. And it's not as if those two are playing poorly. Not at all.
But a funny thing happened somewhere along the way: Guzman started hitting at a level we hadn't seen in a couple of years. And he's hitting left-handers at a rate we've never seen. He's currently batting .422 (19-for-45) against lefties, with five extra-base hits and a stoutRead more »
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