The 2017 MLB Draft began last night, and it got me thinking. Each year teams go into the process looking towards the future. In 2005, the former Montreal Expos turned Washington Nationals staked theirs in Virginia third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The All-American was meant to be the face of the new team in America’s capital. For a while, he was just that. But recently, with Bryce Harper‘s arrival and injuries abound, Zimmerman faded into the background. However, this season has seen him stay relatively healthy and begin his own personal baseball renaissance. Or are we going to lose him again?
Ryan Zimmerman has the makings of a one team man in an era where those are few and far between. There have been trade rumors in the past surrounding him, but none have ever really gained enough traction. Whether it be his contract or injury questions damning the proceedings, one way or another he’s remained at Nat. So far this year that has paid massive dividends.
As of this writing, Zimmerman leads the Majors with a .365 batting average. He is second to Aaron Judge in slugging percentage and OPS. He is just behind Reds boppers Joey Votto and Scott Schebler for the National League home run crown. His power output (17 HR, 49 RBI, 19 doubles) have already surpassed his totals from a year ago. Zimmerman leads first basemen in National League All-Star voting at an absolutely loaded position. There has been a bounce back at his age that nobody would have predicted. Whether or not he can keep it up could steer Washington towards further success or towards another disappointing campaign.
I say that because Zimmerman’s injury is starting to creep up on him. For the sake of not jinxing him like I’ve done the Astros in recent weeks, I’ll say that Zimmerman has been healthier than recent years in 2017. That isn’t setting the bar very high though. He lost over a season’s worth of games during the past three years. 2014 and 2015 saw him miss significant chunks of the year twice. Last year he tried to power through, yet that led to his worst season as a professional.
Zimmerman missed the final two games in their last series against Texas. It showed as Washington suffered their first sweep of the season. Although their pitching was more concerning, their lineup did sputter without Zimmerman in the middle of it. As the #4 man in the order, Washington’s #11 has done the majority of his damage. For a team as loaded as the Nationals, they play very differently when players’ places in the lineup get shaken up.
What Washington shouldn’t do though is rush their revived star back into action. He is too important to have this little back knock turn into months on the shelf. A delay is better than a detour in this case. Keeping him off the field now will help them when it matters more. Just don’t be too cautious.
I know I’ve talked out of both sides of my mouth here. But it almost feels necessary when talking about the 2017 season of Ryan Zimmerman. He’s so vital to Washington’s success, nevertheless, you are waiting for that other shoe to drop. His scorching April gave you hope. As the weather starts to mimic that heat, the hope is that your hottest player stays out of street clothes. Nationals fans have a first place team and a big division lead. However, their bullpen needs Benny Hill music accompaniment. Their starting pitching is woefully inconsistent. This club cannot afford to play risky games with the offence. They need to do their damnedest to take the question mark out of this article’s title and keep Ryan Zimmerman healthy and hitting.