Oct 11, 2013, 6:00 AM EST
Age on Opening Day 2014: 28
How acquired: 3rd round pick, 2004 draft
MLB service time: 4 years, 27 days
2013 salary+bonuses: $3.8 million
Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2014 and 2015, free agent in 2016
2013 Stats: 158 G, 655 PA, 77 R, 168 H, 38 2B, 3 3B, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 21 SB, 43 BB, 145 SO, .280 AVG, .331 OBP, .453 SLG, .784 OPS, 20 E, 4.4 UZR, 5.0 WAR
Quotable: “I wasn’t always headed down this road in my life. I’m just fortunate. I try to take every day as a blessing and try to do the most I can every day.” — Ian Desmond
2013 analysis: Whatever concerns there were that Desmond’s All-Star campaign in 2012 was an aberration were quickly dismissed in 2013. He nearly duplicated his numbers from the previous season, falling just short in most categories but firmly establishing himself as one of the very best shortstops in baseball.
Desmond combines power and speed like few others at his position. In fact, he became only the seventh shortstop in history to post multiple 20-20 seasons, joining an exclusive list that includes Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Barry Larkin and Alan Trammell.
Desmond continued to excel in the field, making the routine plays without any hint of trepidation and making more than his share of highlight-reel plays. Though his 20 errors (only one fewer than Ryan Zimmerman) were a bit high, his range ranked third among all NL shortstops according to Fangraphs (behind only Andrelton Simmons and Zack Cozart). Plain and simple, Desmond makes more plays than most shortstops.
Throw in his ever-expanding role as a clubhouse leader, and Desmond has turned into everything the Nationals could have ever hoped he’d become.
2014 outlook: He’s done it twice now, so why can’t he do it three times? Nothing about Desmond’s performance and growth suggests this isn’t the player he’s going to be for the bulk of his career. He hits for power, he runs the bases well and he’s a sterling defensive shortstop.
The biggest question facing Desmond this winter and entering the 2014 season will be his contract status. Eligible for arbitration, and thus a sizable raise from his $3.8 million salary, he is a prime candidate for a long-term extension. The Nationals have two more years of control and they’d be insane not to try to lock up a bunch more years down the road.
Desmond won’t come cheap. An elite, 28-year-old shortstop is easily worth $15 million a year. But he’s a homegrown product, a clubhouse fixture and an outstanding ambassador for the franchise. He’s exactly the kind of player you want to wear your uniform for his entire career.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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