No matter how one slices it, Ian Desmond’s bounce-back season was nothing short of tremendous. From a real-life standpoint, it wasn’t Desmond’s most valuable season — though it was among his three or four best — but from a fantasy perspective it’d be hard not to put this among his best.
First of all was the sheer magnitude of the improvement. It’s not often that a 29/30-year-old simply forgets how to play baseball, but it was an ill-timed poor season to be sure for Desmond, who not only turned down a lucrative offer from the Nationals prior to the season, but hit free agency with the ferocity of an indecisive running back hitting the line of scrimmage. Coming off hitting just .233/.290/.384, Desmond’s market was bound to be limited. Doubly so, considering the Nationals still slapped him with a qualifying offer. And while in retrospect it might have made sense for Desmond to accept — a la Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Wieters and Neil Walker — things couldn’t have panned out much better for him.
But the amazing part isn’t only that Desmond raised his wOBA 40-plus points, his batting average by more than 50 points and posted his career-best OBP. He also did it while switching positions, a truly intriguing proposition that would make even the faintest shortstop’s stomach queasy. There’s a quite a bit of value at short as someone who has hit .264/.312/.424 over their career — Desmond’s line coming into 2016 — while in the outfield, that’s….well let’s just say that Matt Joyce just signed a two-year deal for $11 million and he’s a career .242/.341/.429 hitter.
But in the end, Desmond gambled on himself — and won. So did fantasy owners. Can they do so again next season? Let’s investigate. Read the rest of this entry »