For the first time since 2005, the Nationals will have at least three players on the National League All-Star team in a single season.
Right-hander Stephen Strasburg, left-hander Gio Gonzalez and shortstop Ian Desmond were all named to the team Sunday. Only once before had Washington put even two players in the All-Star Game since moving from Montreal to the District in 2005. The contest will be played in Kansas City, Mo., on July 10.
Strasburg is 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 16 starts and 93 innings pitched. He leads the majors with 122 strikeouts. Gonzalez improved to 11-3 after an 8-4 victory over Atlanta on Sunday. Even if it wasn't his best game -- four earned runs allowed in five innings -- he yet again gave the Nats a chance to win. His ERA is 3.01, and he has 112 strikeouts.
That duo has made up the best one-two punch among starters in baseball this season.
Desmond, meanwhile, has taken a huge leap forward in a crucial season at this stage of his career. At age 26, he is batting .276 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs. His slugging percentage (.484) leads all shortstops, and his OPS (.792) ranks fourth. Entering play Sunday, Desmond was tied for second in WAR (2.6), a stat used to determine a players' value above a replacement player at his position, according to website Fangraphs.com.
Desmond is now in his third full season. He played 154 games in each of his first two years and in the field dropped his error total from 34 in his first season to 23 last year. This season he has 11 errors in 76 games. But he already has 24 doubles -- three short of his career high. He already has broken his record for home runs (10).
And the Nats could add one more player to the NL All-Star mix. Rookie outfielder Bryce Harper is one of five players up for the annual "Final Vote" contest, with fans choosing the last participant. Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones and center fielder Michael Bourn, Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill and St. Louis third baseman David Freese are the other NL candidates. The deadline is 4 p.m. Thursday.