Among NL shortstops, he ranks fourth in hitting (.276), first in slugging (.484), second in home runs (13) and first in runs batted in (43). He is also a team leader, a caring teammate and capable of not just the routine defensive plays but the difficult ones. Johnson, who has helped Desmond blossom this season, sought out Desmond first on Sunday to congratulate him.
“Being homegrown is obviously something that I don’t take lightly,” Desmond said. “It’s something that I hope I can have the opportunity to stay here my whole career and this, I guess, is a thanks to them. They put in a lot of work with me, as far as minor league coaches and staff, and stuck with me when I was up in the big leagues and, in a sense, struggling.”
Harper has been an electrifying addition to the Nationals’ roster with his hustle and big-play knack since he was debuted on April 28. Despite a recent slump at the plate, the rookie has put up strong numbers — more impressive given he is 19. He is hitting .274 with eight home runs. He has played in all but one of his team’s 58 games since his call-up.
Harper is up against four other players, but none may be tougher competition than Atlanta’s Chipper Jones, 40, who is retiring after this season. Johnson said he hoped fans would vote Harper in but wanted his rookie outfielder to rest and nurse his back.
Harper said he would like to attend the game but voiced his support for Jones. “I think a Hall of Famer should be able to go to the all-star game his last year,” he said. “If I was going to make a vote, I’d go vote for Chip.”
If Harper were selected by Thursday’s voting deadline, the Nationals would be tied for the most all-stars among NL teams with San Francisco and St. Louis. But with three selections, the Nationals are already being rewarded for their banner season.
“We’re going to be together for a while and, you know, hopefully this isn’t the last one,” Desmond said.