Neither the National or American league have one player currently running away with the MVP race. There are four, maybe five guys in each league that will likely continue to challenge one another for the award. The Mike Trout’s and Bryce Harper’s of the world are two of the names that will probably end up challenging for the award by seasons end. But with that said, there’s a dude in Texas who is flying completely under the radar that has been as valuable as anyone in the league. His name is Ian Desmond.
Offensively, Desmond has done a little bit of everything thus far in 2016. Here are his American League rankings:
- Hits (88) – tied for 3rd
- Doubles (19) – tied for 6th
- Runs (51) – tied for 6th
- RBI (46) – tied for 10th
- SB (13) – tied for 4th
- AVG (.313) – 7th
- OBP (.365) – 16th
- OPS (.870) – 15th
- WAR (2.9) – 14th
If Desmond continues on the pace he’s played at, he’d end the season two hits shy of 200, score 115 runs, hit 43 doubles, 25 home runs, drive in 104 RBI and swipe 29 bags. All that while hitting north of .300, with an OPS near .900. This is all happening just a year after hitting .233 and a lot of people wondering if he’ll ever be an everyday player once again. Desmond has been especially good in the friendly confines in Arlington, as he’s strumming his guitar to a tune of .366 at home.
Where Desmond has made his money this season is when runners have been on base. With nobody on base, Desmond has hit just .252 this season but when at least one person’s on, he’s lighting opposing pitching up, hitting .398. Even more impressive is his .343 average with runners in scoring position. In 70 at-bats with RISP, Desmond has driven in 32 runs. His ability to come up clutch for the Rangers this season has helped them achieve the best record in the AL currently.
When Desmond signed in Texas, he knew Elvis Andrus was their shortstop as he agreed he would move to the outfield. In his seven professional seasons prior to 2016, Desmond had played 7.1 innings in the outfield. He has a .983 fielding percentage in center field which is right on par with the league average and already has five assists from the OF, putting him 11th in the entire league in that category.
When we think about the Texas Rangers, the first names that come to mind are Fielder, Hamels, Beltre and Darvish. All of a sudden, not a single of those aforementioned cornerstone players have been as valuable as Ian Desmond has for the Rangers this year. Don’t be surprised if Desmond is fighting for the award comes years end.
Let’s not forget where the Rangers were 72 games into the season in 2015. With virtually the same construction of the roster, they were 37-35, four games out of first place. 72 games into ’16, the Rangers have the best record in the American league at 46-26. It isn’t only because of Desmond and his fantastic first-half, but it is a very big reason as to why.