Key Stats: A career .288/.355/.479 bat, Ryan Zimmerman has posted WAR’s over 7 in two of the last 3 years. He has this odd little roller coaster career path starting in 2006 of good year, good year, hurt, good year, good year then hurt. Of course that is just observation and not scientific law, but if the cycle holds up, Zimms will have a fine year in 2012. Of course I will probably have to make a better argument for his success than cyclical patterns in his career. Since 2008 he has the 9th most HR’s of anyone who qualifies at the position, while playing in less games than all but 2 players ahead of him. He has the 3rd highest WAR over that same span.
Skeptics Say: Injuries… injuries are killer to Zimmerman. In years where he has missed significant time not only are his counting stats down, but his power peripherals are down too. In 2008 and 2011, his two most severe injury plagued seasons he managed only 14 and 12 HR’s thanks to career low ISO’s of .159 and .154 respectfully. The good news is that when he is healthy he is an elite hot corner talent capable of 30 HR’s and 100 RBI’s.
Peer Comparison: Back in October of last year, Michael Barr at fangraphs said that Zimmerman looks a bit like Longoria giving up some in the power department. Using their career slash lines, that isn’t too far off base. Zimmerman’s is above while Longoria is .274/.360/.515. However that is pretty much where the similarity ends in my book. Since 2008 (Longoria’s rookie season), Longoria has played in 57 more games, hit 29 more HR’s, scored 43 more runs and betters Zimmerman’s WAR by 7.3. Over that same span Longoria also leads all third baseman in RBI with 401. Zimmerman has only 291. Longoria also has 24 more steals than him. Surprised? Not really. Longoria is a fringe first round pick, where Zimmerman will probably go in the 3rd.
David Wright is a much closer comparison. Over that same span, Wright only has 2 more HR’s in 57 more games, 52 more RBI, 69 more runs, but a whopping 64 more steals. Zims beats Wright in average .293 to .289. How will thinkgs look this year though? If both players can reamain healthy (something both have struggled with) Wright still edges him out based on speed. Zimmerman is a great player still, but third isn’t as shallow as it used to be.
Lineup Outlook: The Nats are an exciting young team and figure to be playing competitive games from start to finish this year. They may not be a play off team, (or are they with the expanded playoffs?) but they aren’t pushovers. With a lineup featuring Morse, a healthy Zimmerman, Werth, and rising stars Ramos and Espinosa a year older, plus the potential that Bryce Harper has, Washington should be a fun team to watch.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline – #5 Third baseman; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com – #5 Third baseman & #43 Overall; RotoChamp – #71 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP – #4 Third baseman and #40 Overall
Projection: Zimmerman has just been locked up by the Nats and poised for their first year of being truly competitive since moving to DC, Zims will return to prominence and remind people he is the face of the franchise.
.286 AVG, 27 HR, 92 RBI, 80 Runs, 3 Steals, .360 OBP and a .830 OPS in 550 AB’s.