Desmond’s Improving Defense

Lots of talk of Ian Desmond’s hitting recently, and boy, why not. He is quite hot, hitting .324/.361/.490 since July 1st. His OPS is now up to .731 on the season. His hitting has helped rank him 7th among all rookie position players for VORP. But enough about his hitting, I’d rather talk about his improving defense.

His errors have certainly gone down recently. Since a 2 error game on August 1st, he’s only committed 2 errors total. Since July, when his good hitting returned, he has committed 9 errors. 5 in July and 4 in August. Is that great, no, not at all. But it sure beats May and June, when he had 16 errors, 8 in each month. He also had 3 multi error games before July 1, and only 1 since. Maybe it means nothing, but maybe he is starting to mature a little bit. He might always have a high number of errors, but if they’re closer to 15 than 25 or 35, you can live with it for the range of a SS that looks like he’ll be able to hit in the majors.

Of course, the season has yet to play out. We may see another 3 error game this month for Desi, and things won’t look as good. But fangraphs currently has him ranked #5 in range above replacement player among shortstops in the majors, so you’d think as those errors fall, his fielding value will rise and his UZR gets better. I’m not saying it’s a lock that he’s a better fielder now than 3 months ago. But there are encourage signs that he has improved.

A Link for Cycle Lovers

I got an e-mail from Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times today, noting that one of their articles made mention of several people with ties to the team here. It’s the most unlikeliest cycles of all time – a fun little analysis of an obscure feat that everyone knows about – and it includes a Senator and some Expos. Check it out here.

The Thursday Starter

Jordan Zimmermann has indeed been confirmed to start Thursday instead over Strasburg, who’s headed to the DL. Many will be disappointed to not see Strasburg on Thursday, and it is disappointing that his health is in question. But I’m downright excited to see Zimmermann pitch again. If he finishes out the season the way many think he can, they next year could look very good from a rotation standpoint.

That’s assuming Strasburg is healthy, but I am less panicky than others. This kind of stuff happens when you first subject college players to full time pro baseball, they just tend to be playing in the minors and get less attention. Meanwhile, the Nationals Journal has some speculation that his injury may be similar to what Lannan had, tried to pitch through, and hurt worse. If so, it’s not serious, and resting him now will allow  him pitch again soon.

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