Colorado Rockies: Ian Desmond turning the corner?
By Ryan Ladika
June has not been kind to the 2018 Colorado Rockies. The club is 7-12 through the first 19 games of the month, and unlike earlier in the season, when the pitching staff picked up the lackluster offense, it has been that same Rockies offense that has carried Colorado to their 7 June wins…an offense that looks like it is getting a crucial piece back to form.
Yes, I am talking about Ian Desmond.
The much-maligned Colorado Rockies’ first baseman, as Colorado’s TV play-by-play broadcaster Drew Goodman once referred to him, is starting to heat up, and that’s good news for a Rockies club currently sitting in dire straits with regards to its pitching staff.
Throughout the past month’s worth of games, Colorado is finally starting to see the offensive production that it envisioned when Desmond was signed to a five-year contract a little more than two years ago. After slashing .178/.229/.337 with an OPS of .566 and a wRC+ of just 35 in March and April, and .215/.267/.441 with an OPS of .708 and a wRC+ of 72 in May, Desmond has showed signs of becoming the real contributor who Rockies fans have been dying to see in June.
In 19 games this month, Desmond is hitting .267/.413/.567, good for a .980 OPS. Not exceptional stats by any means (particularly on the .267 batting average), but the signs that he’s coming around are there. In his last seven games, Desmond is 9-for-23 with three home runs and seven walks. Additionally, he has already eclipsed his 2017 season total in bases on balls. He only struck out five times.
But let’s dig a little deeper.
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Last year, Desmond’s ground ball percentage was 63.2 percent when it was all said and done. So far this year, he’s dropped it to 62.8 percent. Not a huge difference, I know, but it has been better, and I expect it to keep dropping if he continues on this pace.
His fly ball percentage has improved from 13.6 percent to 15.8 percent. A bit more significant of an improvement, but, again, not by much. His hard hit percentage has increased from 30.6 percent to 39.9 percent. Even more significant a change.
Is Desmond finally for real? Only time will tell, but the Rockies are currently in a situation where they no longer have to worry about their big-money first baseman being the biggest problem on the roster, at least for the time being.
This is good news for the Rockies, as I mentioned earlier. After Colorado’s four-game series victory over the New York Mets, the Rockies have 7 wins in June. The final scores of those 7 wins? 9-6, 6-3, 7-2, 9-5, 10-8, 10-8, and 6-4. This offense we’re seeing from the Rockies right now is a complete turnaround from what we saw at the beginning of the season. It’s what’s been keeping the Rockies from falling too far back in the division, with the wheels completely coming off in the bullpen.
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If Ian Desmond can continue to be a real presence in the lineup, it will help Colorado take a little more pressure off the exhausted ‘pen, and hopefully help get them back on track. We need to start giving credit where credit is due: Ian Desmond is starting to turn things around, and that’s a very good thing.