WASHINGTON -- Though the Nationals rank just 23rd in pitches seen per plate appearance -- 3.77, below the league average of 3.82 -- manager Davey Johnson isn't concerned with his young team's approach.
"I call it being 'patiently aggressive,'" Johnson said. "We leave out the 'patiently' part. The more experience you get, the more you're going to realize that balls out of the strike zone are not balls that you constantly hit hard. Sometimes that takes a little while for a younger player. I would much rather a guy be overly aggressive starting out than not aggressive."
Perhaps no member of the Nationals personifies that mentality more than shortstop Ian Desmond. Though Desmond's 3.33 pitches per plate appearance are the fewest among Nats starters, the 26-year-old remains on his way to a career year. Hitting .265 with a .744 OPS, he has already set a career high in homers, with 11.
"He's going after it. He's not giving [opposing pitchers] any free rides on the first pitch through the last," Johnson said.
"Ian now knows who he is and knows what he has to do to stay playing at a good level. Defensively, he [improved] a lot last year. He was still searching offensively. I think he's more freed up, because it's who he is. Sometimes it takes younger players a while to realize who they are and what their potential is. I think he's right there."