Replacing Ian Desmond a tough task

Updated: July 23, 2012, 3:01 PM ET
By Eric Karabell

The unfortunate oblique injury suffered by Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is a significant one for fantasy owners. Desmond is likely to miss at least a month of action and, well, good luck finding a replacement at middle infield. The Nationals will simply move their left fielder to second base (Stephen Lombardozzi), their second baseman (Danny Espinosa) to shortstop and find a left fielder, but fantasy owners will have a tougher time filling the hole, even in shallow leagues. In fact, one could argue it hasn't been this tough to find a middle infielder in many years.

Sure, we know runs, home runs and even stolen bases are down from previous seasons and especially from the fun, high-offense days from a decade ago, but fantasy owners really take the hit when it comes to middle infielders. Entering Sunday's action a mere five second basemen/shortstops made up the top 50 on ESPN's Player Rater, and Desmond was No. 2 of that group. The others are, in order, Robinson Cano, Jason Kipnis, Ian Kinsler and Aaron Hill at No. 50. You might notice a trend with that group, as none are shortstops. After Desmond the No. 2 shortstop on the Rater is Starlin Castro, at No. 67 overall. It's possible Desmond misses a month but doesn't drop from being the top shortstop in that time, which is telling.