Rockies outfielder/first baseman Ian Desmond has shown troubling signings in the first season of a five-year, $70MM contract, notes. Along with a .273/.319/.367 batting line that’s 35 percent worse than league average (per FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric), Desmond’s groundball rate and exit velocity have trended in the wrong direction. His 63.1 percent grounder mark is nearly 12 percent worse than his yearly average and of MLB.comranks last among hitters with at least 300 PAs. At the same time, Desmond’s exit velo has dropped from 90.5 mph last season to 87.4 mph this year. But health issues have likely contributed to Desmond’s drop-off, as the soon-to-be 32-year-old has been on the disabled list three different times. Indeed, Desmond told Randhawa that the injuries – including the fractured left hand he suffered in spring training – have made it difficult for him to establish himself this season. Based on his track record, Desmond expects to return to form. “Line drives and hard contact. For me, that’s my game,” Desmond said. “I’ve got to utilize my speed, and I think there’s complete validity in hitting the ball in the air and launch angle and all that stuff, but at the same time, my swing and the results I’ve been able to produce over the years is plenty for me. And I think that game plays anywhere. The thing is just a matter of getting the swings off and timing.”
More from the majors’ West divisions:
- The Diamondbacks are pleased with the progress shortstop Ketel Marte has made in his first year with the organization, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. Since the Diamondbacks acquired him from the Mariners last winter in a blockbuster trade that also included Jean Segura, Taijuan Walker and Mitch Haniger, Marte has made plate discipline and defensive improvements, Piecoro points out. The 23-year-old is running a 10.7 percent walk rate, up from 3.9 percent in 2016, and has hit a playable .271/.350/.409 in 206 plate appearances (compared to .259/.287/.323 in 466 PAs last season). And after receiving negative marks as a defender a year ago (minus-two defensive runs saved, minus-10.3 Ultimate Zone Rating), Marte has been respectable in the field for the D-backs (five DRS, 0.3 UZR). “He’s done a great job, especially given that we’re in a pennant chase,” general manager Mike Hazen told Piecoro. “He’s handled the position, locked it down after we lost both guys (Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings) to injury in the middle of the year.”
- The bounce-back year Delino DeShields has enjoyed this season could put him in line for a starting spot in the Rangers’ outfield in 2018, per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. DeShields impressed as a Rule 5 pick in his rookie year, 2015, but plummeted to earth last season. He has returned in 2017 to bat a solid .280/.352/.383 with 28 stolen bases in 388 plate appearances. The Rangers have also been impressed with the speedster’s work in center filling in for the injured Carlos Gomez, with manager Jeff Banister saying: “It starts with ownership of playing center field. If you watch, I see things between pitches, he’s moving the left fielder over because he’s moving, or he’s moving the right fielder toward the foul line because of what he is seeing. It starts with that preparation. You are the leader, you are the quarterback.” With Gomez scheduled to hit free agency over the winter, DeShields could take over center for good next season.