Holding Court: Is Ian Desmond Cooked? Or Will Twitter Save Him?


Ian Desmond has two weeks to resemble some form has his recent self. By then Anthony Rendon *should* be back. So should Jayson Werth. Maybe even Ryan Zimmerman. The trading deadline of July 31st is also in two weeks. Convenient. If the Nats had a big division lead they would have the luxury to let Desmond play his way out of whatever it is this is. But they don’t.
The top priority for this team is getting @ouij a new hat winning the World Series, not Ian Desmond’s next contract.
He’s had 350 plate appearances in 85 games (prior to Saturday’s games) and with 14 games left in July, he’ll have about 400 PAs by the end of the month. The next 50 or so at-bats won’t change his terrible numbers (.209/.254./.332, -0.9 WAR) much but they can at least be an indication of progress. What does progress look like? Fangraphs has a great article breaking down his troubles – swinging and missing high fastballs, a past sweet spot  – so progress would be less Ks and more extra-base hits. If he can show any sort of progress in those two areas, his experience and leadership make it worth the gamble to let him try to improve by the playoffs.
But if not, it’s time to bench him. Danny Espinosa has put up the numbers Ian Desmond was supposed to (.255/.331/.433, 2.2 WAR) so he’s the one that should keep playing. Yunel Escobar has put up the numbers expected of him (.325/.372/.423, 1.4 WAR) so he should keep playing. Once Rendon and Zimmerman come back, someone will have to sit.
If Desmond doesn’t show some kind of turn around, and maybe even if he does, I think the better bet would be to let Zim and Rendon play their way back into shape than to sacrifice ABs from them to give to Desmond. At some point he is what he is. Maybe next year will be different. But the priority must be this year. And this year he’s been terrible.
The falloff in his play happened after he left Twitter. Now he’s back. If it’s not Twitter, then it’s because he’s slowing down. Let’s hope it’s Twitter. 

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