The Montreal Expos, during their existence, were renowned for their strong drafting abilities. You don’t have to look any further than their drafted HOFers Gary Carter (’72), Andre Dawson (’75), and Tim Raines (’77), to see that, but if you do you’ll note a multitude of successful draftees.
For years, the Expos were well known to be able to develop players at a tremendous rate. This was true until their final draft season, in 2004, when they landed few who made it all of the way to MLB. Whether it was a lack of investment in a team that was doomed to move and was in flux is unknown, but they did land one gem who continues to make his mark on MLB 13 years later.
Ian Desmond was selected in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft, 1 selection after the Blue Jays selected Adam Lind, and 8 spots ahead of current Blue Jays SP J.A. Happ. He worked his way through the minors from 2005 through 2009, making his MLB debut (as a Washington National) September 4th, 2009, when he hit a double and a HR, driving in 4 RBI vs the Phillies.
Desmond ended up playing in his first full season in 2010 and since then has earned the following stats among SS (keeping in mind that 2016 was spent in LF):
- 2nd highest WAR rating at 20.3 (Tulo 1st at 27.8 and Reyes 3rd at 20.0)
- 2nd in RBI with 506, only 4 behind Tulo
- 3rd in HR by a SS with 128 (Tulo 1st w/152 and HanRam 2nd w/137)
- 4th in Games Played (1062)
- 6th in SB with 142
And it’s not only that he performed well while on the field, he also played in 154 games or more in 6 of the last 7 seasons (other was 130) and proved to be one of the – if not the – most durable SS in MLB in the process.
Here’s a video run down of some of his highlights over the years:
Unfortunately for the Rockies, it wasn’t until after he landed his $70M contract that he wound up getting hurt and missing significant time for the first time of his career.
But back to the point of this piece, Desmond represents the last gasp of the Montreal Expos in today’s MLB, and may very well last long enough for him to see the team that drafted him return to MLB. So a thought came to mind, could a Reloaded Montreal Expos team aim to bring him back to Montreal one day, linking together their past and their future?
Stranger things have happened.
And from everything I’ve read and heard about Ian Desmond, he’s exactly the kind of veteran presence a new Expos team would want to bring in to help out their young players. Whether it’s bringing him in towards the end of his 5 year deal with the Rockies or when he becomes a FA in either 2021 or 2022, he’d have experience at 1B by then and be able to provide stability to a franchise that would presumably welcome it.
Give props to the Montreal Expos for identifying a great talent in Desmond as they ended their first tenure in Montreal, and keep an eye on whether or not they target him when they make a comeback. Until then, enjoy his performances – once he proves healthy again – and cheer him on as of the last Expos draft picks to still be playing in MLB.