Can Ian Desmond be a Good Outfielder?

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Mar 12, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers shortstop Ian Desmond (20) scores a run against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers shortstop Ian Desmond (20) scores a run against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Transitioning from the middle infield to the outfield is never easy. It’s even harder when you’re over the age of thirty and a couple of rough years has put you career in doubt.

When the Texas Rangers first signed Ian Desmond, I was one filled with skepticism. I mean, the guy has been playing baseball at shortstop his entire life, then one day at age thirty tries to move to the outfield? Not a very smart move. Look at how Hanley Ramirez did while trying to convert from infielder to outfielder. You can literally search “Hanley Ramirez fielding errors” and watch video after video of Hanley misjudging balls, falling, and the like. In fact, it got so bad last year that the Red Sox relocated Ramirez to first base! I personally didn’t want to see the Rangers’ new outfielder on ESPN’s Not Top 10 every Friday, but as time goes by, I realize that may not be an issue.

Jeff Banister has been raving about how Desmond should be able to shift to the outfield fairly well, just based on how athletic he is. I again, was a skeptic. Well, up until I saw these two plays:

Desmond’s Throw

Desmond’s Catch

This guy looks like he’s been playing the outfield his whole life! In the first play, it was more of the Rockies testing his arm, but he still made a great accurate throw to get the runner out by a full step and a half. On the second play, however, Ian took a great angle on the ball. He did a strange basket-catch, but I assume his form will slowly improve with more practice. He then threw a bullet without even taking a good step to Prince Fielder, getting the runner out at first to seal a double play.

It’s only Spring Training, but as of now, it looks like Ian Desmond can be a pretty solid outfielder. This also may solve the issue of whether to carry a three or four man bench. If Desmond can back up center field and shortstop, this eliminates the need of a Drew Stubbs unless an injury occurs. If Desmond consistently makes plays like these from above, I could see him having a bounce-back year, and potentially becoming an All-Star again.

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