Ian Desmond debuted for the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Chase Field as they faced the Arizona Diamondbacks. Infielder Cristhian Adames was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black started Ian Desmond in left field to add another right-handed bat to the lineup against the Diamondbacks’ lefty starter Patrick Corbin.
Black didn’t announce Desmond’s return before the game, but did make remarks about his impressive extended spring training games. In seven at-bats on Saturday, Desmond collected four doubles. He started the game at first base, but then moved to left field.
Desmond presents a good problem
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Desmond’s return is certainly welcome to an already potent Rockies offense, but it presents Black with a precarious problem. Veteran Mark Reynolds has certainly earned his time at first base with his hot bat. However, keeping Desmond in left field for too long could violate his vow to master first base by season’s end.
Currently, Reynolds is producing like a top-10 first baseman. He leads the team in home runs, and is top-5 in runs created and batting average. He’s also ninth in the league among first basemen for ISO (.322) and wOBA (.419), and is seventh in slugging (.633).
Inserting Desmond into the lineup adds to the Rockies potency. However, he probably won’t replace Reynolds at first until Reynolds’ bat cools off.
Last season, Ryan Raburn and Gerardo Parra were the primary left fielders for the Rockies. Together, they slashed .236/.290/.401 with 16 home runs and 69 RBI. Desmond slashed .285/.335/.446 with a 10.5 Off WAR, 22 home runs and 86 RBI.
Fuel to the fire
The Rockies have the potential to be one of the most potent offenses in the MLB. They are second in ISO (.201) and are tied for second in home runs with the Yankees and Nationals with 36. However, they’re scoring 31 percent of their runs via home runs, the highest percentage of any top-10 offense.
Coming into today’s contest against in Arizona, the Rockies are 6-4 in their last 10 games, even though they’ve scored 67 runs. Three of their losses came by 6+ runs while the team only won one contest by the same margin.
Even with such good power numbers, the Rockies are in the middle of the pack in runs scored. Last season, Desmond scored 107 runs, which would have ranked him fourth on the Rockies between Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story. Adding Desmond’s run producing abilities makes Colorado’s offense that much more well-rounded.
A central figure to success
When the Rockies signed Desmond to a five-year $70 million contract last off-season, the team envisioned they were signing a player who could become a super-utility type. Desmond is two-time all-star, once as a shortstop with the Washington Nationals. He converted to outfield as a member of the Texas Rangers last season. But, he’s never played first base, like the Rockies insisted he would over the winter. But that was before he broke his left hand in spring training.
Now that Desmond is healthy, look for the Rockies offense to pick up their production.