Arizona Diamondbacks: Why Daniel Descalso is an All-Star
The veteran infielder is making a strong case to appear in his first All-Star Game.
In 2017, the Diamondbacks signed veteran utility player Daniel Descalso as a guy who could come off the bench as a pinch hitter and get an occasional start in the field while being a mentor to the younger players on the roster. In fact, it seems like that’s been Descalso’s career role since breaking into the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2010.
Manager Torey Lovullo has given Descalso plenty of praise since he arrived in the desert for his professionalism and ability to put together good at-bats, no matter the result. Descalso isn’t the greatest player in the game by any means, but he’s been an under the radar kind of good for a Diamondbacks team that has struggled offensively over the course of the season. Because Descalso has never been an everyday player, he’s never been looked at by the rest of the league to play in the All-Star Game, but Descalso’s 2018 campaign has arguably been good enough he should be a representative for the club in Washington next month for many reasons.
His rise to the everyday lineup
As was mentioned above, Descalso throughout his career has been a player managers have used off of the bench in late-game situations when they’re looking for someone to get on base. Descalso has never shown a lot of power in his career, but it looks like hitting home runs is becoming a new part of his game. He’s not putting up power numbers like Giancarlo Stanton or JD Martinez but through the first two-and-a-half months of the season, Descalso has seven home runs for the Diamondbacks in 59 games. In fact, Descalso is on pace to pass his career high in home runs from last year when he hit ten, including two in the postseason.
Descalso’s professionalism at the plate has made it hard for Lovullo to keep him out of the lineup consistently and even on days off, it is common for him to come off the bench no matter what the situation is. Descalso’s strikeout rate on the year sits at 24.8%, but he has a .364 OBP with a .267 batting average, which shows that a strong part of the 31-year-old Descalso’s game is getting on base. He also produced for the club in May when the rest of the offense struggled to put runs and hits on the board consistently, batting .290 with three home runs while the rest of the team hit .193 and posted an 8-19 record. If it wasn’t for Descalso’s success in May, the month might have gone a different route, and possibly cost Arizona the division to the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers at this point in the year. He also leads the club in RBI with 36.
Descalso has been a perfect addition to the lineup for Arizona since arriving last year because of one thing that seems to follow the veteran infielder: winning. It feels like the league has several players contagious to winning and Descalso has been one of those throughout his career. Since his first full season in 2011, Descalso has only missed the postseason twice, both years being with the Colorado Rockies in 2015 and 2016. Even with the Rockies in 2016, the club was in the mix for the postseason until the middle of September, which arguably shined a light on the club during the 2017 playoff run.
Descalso has also appeared in two World Series, both with the Cardinals, and won a ring in 2011 as a bench player. It’s also worth mentioning that Descalso isn’t shy with the power, with four career postseason home runs in 20 starts and a .284 OBP. It’s a small sample size, as he’s mostly come in off the bench. But for Arizona last year, Descalso was the club’s best player, hitting .333 and posting a .538 OBP for a team that got swept in the NLDS to their hated rival Dodgers.
Conclusion: Why not?
The Diamondbacks don’t have a lot of All-Star worthy players and, at this point, will have no more than two representatives next month, but fans should at least give Descalso a look at going to the All-Star Game. Descalso has been Arizona’s best player offensively all year and kept the Diamondbacks in the division race when things seemed to fall downhill last month.
Descalso will not start the game but if he’s selected as part of the Final Player Vote after the polls close on July 5, fans should give him love and vote him into his first ever All-Star Game. The more he plays and gets in the lineup, the more he proves why he’s an under the radar option to go to the All-Star Game. NL Manager Dave Roberts shouldn’t ignore Descalso being on the roster either, for Descalso has hit more home runs against his Dodgers than any other team in his career with seven.
Fans should take into consideration what Descalso has done for the Diamondbacks and for past teams he’s played for in deciding if he should be in Washington next month. He could easily be a Final Vote candidate and if that’s the case, depending on who his competition would be, he might be the best option to win that last spot on the NL roster.