Ian Desmond has done enough most of the season to convince the Nationals he can be a fixture in the lineup down the road. But lately, he's done more than that. Desmond is starting to look like a top-end shortstop now, still prone to errors but increasingly effective with the bat and benefitting from the experience only available on a team where the future is more important than the present.
His performance on Sunday - a 2-for-3 showing in Washington's 8-1 victory over the Pirates - was only the latest in an increasingly long list of examples of the shortstop's maturation. He hit .347 with a pair of homers in August, and is 10-for-16 already this month. His average is at .289 after Sunday, and his .753 OPS is fourth among National League shortstops. He's driven in 58 runs, and has developed into a productive No. 2 hitter in the team's lineup. There are still plenty of times when he makes errors on routine plays, but he has shown the presence of mind not to try and make risky plays. Coupled with the possibility of Danny Espinosa solving the team's long-term need at second base, Desmond gives the Nationals plenty to be excited about in the future.