Can Ian Desmond continue power surge? 

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
12:09
PM ET
When Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was the team's leadoff hitter, it was easy to point out the obvious flaw of his not getting on base enough for the role. But as Desmond settles into a new role as the upstart team's No. 5 hitter and top power option -- yep, you read that right -- it's time to view Desmond in a different light. Sure, on-base percentage is important no matter what lineup spot you're in, but if you're hitting 25-plus home runs, people tend to overlook it.

Desmond homered off Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay on Tuesday night, his fourth blast in the past week and eighth of the season. Desmond has been productive in May (six home runs, 14 RBIs, four stolen bases), so it's no surprise that he's in the top 10 on ESPN Fantasy's most added list and up to 97.2 percent owned in standard leagues. He should be. Desmond was always miscast as a top-of-the-order hitter, but recently he has been hitting fifth, and as long as his apparent new approach at the plate keeps working, it's a better role for him.

[+] EnlargeIan Desmond
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonIan Desmond (right) is currently on pace for 30 homers and 19 steals.
Entering Wednesday, the only middle infielder in baseball with more home runs than Desmond is Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, with nine. Only 20 players regardless of position have more home runs. Desmond has eight already, matching his total from 2011, which he accrued over nearly 400 more at-bats. In 2010, he hit 10 home runs. Now he's on pace for 30? Something doesn't make sense.