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Roster review: Ryan Zimmerman

Oct 10, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

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Age on Opening Day 2014: 29

How acquired: 1st round pick, 2005 draft

MLB service time: 8 years, 32 days

2013 salary+bonuses: $14 million

Contract status: Signed for $14 million in 2014, $14 million in 2015, $14 million in 2016, $14 million in 2017, $14 million in 2018, $18 million in 2019, $18 million club option or $2 million buyout in 2020, free agent in 2021

2013 Stats: 147 G, 633 PA, 84 R, 156 H, 26 2B, 2 3B, 26 HR, 79 RBI, 6 SB, 60 BB, 133 SO, .275 AVG, .344 OBP, .465 SLG, .809 OPS, 21 E, -14.0 UZR, 3.0 WAR

Quotable: “That’s why you play all 162. … At the end of the year, guys are what they are. Do I wish I was the same guy every month and was consistent? Yeah, but that’s just not how it works out.” — Ryan Zimmerman

2013 analysis: In the wake of offseason shoulder surgery, Zimmerman entered 2013 hopeful he was finally behind the injury but aware it might still take more time to fully get back to 100 percent. Turns out that was true. Zimmerman’s throwing issues became a national story during the season’s first half — he was charged with 14 errors in his first 66 games — and there were legitimate questions about his ability to stay at third base.

But over the course of the summer, Zimmerman regained strength in the surgically repaired shoulder, and that gave him more confidence in the field. By season’s end, he was firing the ball across the diamond as well as he had in several years, charged with only seven errors over his final 75 games.

There also were questions about Zimmerman’s power stroke through much of the season. He hit only 15 homers through his first 515 plate appearances, a 2.9 percent rate well below his career mark of 3.6 percent. But then he finished with a flourish, clubbing an NL-leading 11 homers in September, a staggering 9.3 percent rate. He finished right where he usually does: 26 homers, a .465 slugging percentage.

2014 outlook: It may yet happen someday down the road, but forget about any discussion of Zimmerman moving across the diamond next season. He re-established his ability to play third base at an elite level over the final two months, and he’ll enter 2014 as confident as he’s been throwing the ball in years.

The time has come, though, for Zimmerman to put together another complete season, start to finish. He has dealt with injuries, both nagging and severe, the last four years and hasn’t played in more than 147 games since 2009.

As the above quote shows, Zimmerman believes strongly in the idea of track records and maintaining an even keel. But the Nationals, while never doubting his abilities to post his numbers by season’s end, certainly wouldn’t mind a strong April to set the tone for a fantastic 2014.

  1. Another_Sam - Oct 10, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    My thought — His offense is fine. I know the conventional wisdom is that the throwing thing is behind him, but if it’s at all a mental thing — if there’s any hint from the first day of spring training that the can’t throw — I’m thinking first base. I don’t see how they can go into the regular season with him at third base if his throwing at all resembles what we saw last spring, or if his readiness to throw is at all suspect.

    Of course I’m not a GM and I’ve never even played on on TV.

    • Sonny G 10 - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      Don’t worry, Sam. No way his throwing problems will be as severe as last season and he will remain at third.

  2. tcostant - Oct 10, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    Wouldn’t be great if we were doing a preveiew of David Price as a National? Phil Wood has been saying for months that this is the prefect guy to target in the offseason:

    • therealjohnc - Oct 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      It would be great. It would also be great if we were reading a preview of Clayton Kershaw as a National. Neither one is happening, though. Given the way the Rays approach trades (they like lopsided deals), the demand that Price will see, and the lack of near-MLB high-end talent in the Nats’ system, particularly position players (a Tampa need), it’s difficult to see a scenario that ends with Price in DC.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 10, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        Agreed. For anyone watching Tampa wants sure thing #1 prospects like Wil Myers with top prospects like Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi for pitchers like James Shields with Wade Davis. James Shields is a short term rental. He is a Free Agent if the Royals turn down his option and best scenario is definitely a Free Agent after 2014. Royals paid a high price for him.

        David Price is a 2 year rental. He will cost a lot more than Wil Myers. JUST SAY NO!

  3. tcostant - Oct 10, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    It’s really amazing that Zim isn’t 30 years old yet.

  4. Joe Seamhead - Oct 10, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    I still say that Ryan Zimmerman is not going to first any time in the near future. Just my opinion, but I think that his play at third in 2013 was an aberration, not a trend. Now, Jayson Werth may see 1B soon. Just my opinion; that and two bits won’t even get you a copy of the Washington Post.

  5. Theophilus T.S. - Oct 10, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Agree that Z’man isn’t going to 1B any time soon. I am pretty sure LaRoche won’t be back in 2015 — and Werth playing out his contract at 1B makes more sense than moving Z’man there — if (Big IF) — Z’man can still play 3B. (Of course, M. Cabrera can’t play 3B but Z’man is not Cabrera.) I think the arm thing has been resolved. Not sure how much of the range issue was a consequence of the arm issue. But (as Cabrera has proved) range isn’t everything. So he should be serviceable at 3B for a few more years.

    The quote regarding “that’s why they play 162” is unintentionally revealing. For most of the season Z’man’s attitude was, “At the end of the season, I’ll have my numbers,” as if that’s all that matters. Thanks to a September in which he hit commensurate with his salary, he came w/in shouting distance of where he should have been (.275 and 79 RBI are not what he should expect of himself, or what he is being for). But during the first five mos., when the season was being lost, Z’man was watching third-strike fast balls run past his belt. In my opinion he came into the season overweight and out-of-condition. Can we blame that on the shoulder surgery? Or is he just a natural soft-body who at 29 is sliding past his peak? Probably the most important job of Manager Ripken (or Larkin or M. Williams) will be to make sure Z’man understands he is supposed to play at a high level all 162 games.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Oct 10, 2013 at 10:09 AM

      “being paid for”

    • jd - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:11 PM


      I agree with a lot of what you say. I think the early season struggles were a result of injury, honeymoon and over confidence and I think that a lot of the over confidence came from Davey and permeated throughout the team. The only player who started out strong and hungry right out of the gate was Bryce Harper and his season went straight down hill when he ran into a wall.

      One would hope that last season would serve as an object lesson that you have to start the season ready. In any event we don’t have half the team getting married this year and they are not coming off a 98 win season so complacency shouldn’t be a factor.

  6. Theophilus T.S. - Oct 10, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Price presents the same conundrum as Greinke — they have to get rid of him because of his (likely) salary demands but because he will be on a short contract w/ outrageous salary demands the market for his services will be limited to a half-dozen teams — NYY, Red Sox, Dodgers, Rangers, Nationals and, maybe Phillies. The limited market will dampen the price in prospects these teams will pay (and some think the Yankees and Phillies farm systems are tapped out). So TB may be forced to accept less than you might expect. I could see a package of Goodwin, Cole (or Ray) and Karns. (I think the Nats would keep the LHs, Solis and Purke — Taylor might be a factor.)

    • sjm308 - Oct 10, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      Hey – lets throw in Espinosa as well. I really do think Tampa would take a gamble on our boy. It is sort of what they do.

  7. sjm308 - Oct 10, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Can those of you who know much more than I (pretty much everyone on here) explain why everyone just throws out position changes so casually. I realize these are professional athletes but if you have been at 3rd base (Zimm) or in the outfield (Werth), won’t it be fairly difficult to make a change to a new position? This is one reason I was so impressed with Harper and yet he spent time in the minors making that position change. For that reason, unless I see either of those players actually practicing at first base this spring, I just don’t see it happening. Again, I would like to hear about all the players who made this switch and ended up helping themselves and their teams. Was Votto an outfielder first (I think he was)? I am pretty sure most major league first basemen came up at that position but I could easily be wrong on this. Waiting to be blasted about position changes but I still believe we have to see these guys actually try the position before we move them.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 10, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      Catchers seem to make changes to 1st base often. Just look at Mike Napoli or Joe Mauer. Even Paul LoDuca did it although not well so it’s not for everyone. Werth started his career at catcher and 1st base before switching to outfield. No doubt in my mind, Jayson would excel at 1st base but it takes time.

      In the meantime, it’s all for fun to discuss since there’s nobody replacing Jayson in the outfield. With RZim its a different story and if he can improve is Range ratings by playing at normal depth than its a moot point as no reason to change.

    • masterfishkeeper - Oct 10, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      First base is probably the least demanding defensive position. You mostly have to catch throws and occasionally pick up a ground ball. Yes, good first basement (say Pujols in his prime) are better than bad first basemen (think Adam Dunn), but the difference between good and bad isn’t as big as it is with other positions.

      Both Werth and Zimmerman could make the switch without any trouble. The real question is whether they would hit enough to be above average or better for first basemen.

  8. sjm308 - Oct 10, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Another question. Is Cole Hamels a free agent? I realize Natslady might have a cow but I do like his competitiveness and even though he plunked Harper I think he would be a nice addition. If he is not a free agent then I do not ever want to make a trade with Philly.

    • masterfishkeeper - Oct 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      Hamels signed a big extension with Philly about a year ago. He’s not going anywhere.

      • sjm308 - Oct 10, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        Thanks for both answers

  9. texnat1 - Oct 10, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    If the Nats are going to pull out all the stops to trade for a star, I’d rather they do it for Stanton than Price or any other big name pitcher. The offense needs improvement far more than the starting pitching staff does.

  10. jd - Oct 10, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Bowden thinks the Nats will be in on Price and they would have to come up with some sort of a combination of :Cole,Goodwin and Giolito. I would trade all 3 for Price. You are talking about a 28 year old former Cy Young winner in the prime of his career with 2 more years of team control. This would make the Nats rotation the deepest in the majors.

    If we don’t have to give up Rendon in the package I say do it.

  11. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    agreed, if we are going all in, I want Stanton in Nats uni more than a star pitcher. but he will cost more than Price or Kershaw.

  12. jd - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:45 PM


    Forget Kershaw. The Dodgers aren’t trading him or letting him go. I don’t think the Marlins are motivated to move Stanton unless they get a king’s ransom.

    I think Price is the only player/pitcher in the prime of his career who is likely to be moved. If the Nats are going for it that’s the move to make.

  13. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    JD, I too think that Kershaw will be signed to the biggest pitcher’s contract ever. Yep, Dodgers are not planning to let anyone beat them to that.

    I think Stanton is arbitration eligible this off-season so he is very likely to be traded and yes, they will get boatload of prospects. And since our offense is usually the problem, he will be the only guy I will trade away whatever prospects we have left.

    Price is awesome but lesser control, older, more money and less of a need for us.

    • texnat1 - Oct 10, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      Agree Faraz. In fact, I’m not sure if I support trading Giolito plus other prospects for two years of Price. I would only support it if the Nats also intend to go out and get another big bat.

      Otherwise, I am afraid you have hurt your future in the service of adding a player who, while good, does not even address the reason why you failed to make the playoffs this year. Price is only worth it if he is part of a larger strategy to make a real push for a world title during the time he would be here.

  14. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 10, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    So, another poster here reminded me today that, before this past season, there was some give-and-take on the value of stat-based vs. direct observation-based predictions, and how conservative the projections seemed for the Nats generally, and a few players, notably Bryce Harper, particularly. So I thought I’d go back to that post last January, and see what actually came to be. Comments shown are Mark’s.

    2012 Actual     597  22  59  .270  .340  .477
    2013 James      659  24  65  .272  .347  .476
    2013 ZiPS       641  26  70  .274  .346  .486
    COMMENT: Both projections seem awfully conservative for a player just about everybody in baseball expects to make a huge leap at age 20.
    2013 ACTUAL: 	497  20  58  .274  .368  .486
    2012 Actual     641  25  95  .282  .346  .478
    2013 James      659  25  93  .287  .359  .486
    2013 ZiPS       607  23  87  .280  .348  .471
    COMMENT: At this point in his career, we know what Zimmerman is going to produce. The only question is how many games he plays.
    2013 ACTUAL	633  26  79  .275  .344  .465
    2012 Actual     547  25  73  .292  .335  .511
    2013 James      595  18  68  .279  .326  .445
    2013 ZiPS       611  18  70  .269  .312  .432
    COMMENT: Obviously, there's some skepticism about Desmond's ability to pick up where he left off last season, though neither projects him to revert all the way back to his 2011 numbers.
    2013 ACTUAL	655  20  80  .280  .331  .453
    2012 Actual     647  33 100  .271  .343  .510
    2013 James      592  26  87  .256  .334  .471
    2013 ZiPS       478  19  72  .249  .322  .445
    COMMENT: It's probably correct to assume some regression from LaRoche in his age-33 season, but does anyone honestly believe he'll only hit .249 with 19 homers as ZiPS suggests?
    2013 ACTUAL	590  20  62  .237  .332  .403
    2012 Actual     344   5  31  .300  .387  .440
    2013 James      636  20  74  .267  .367  .440
    2013 ZiPS       501  15  53  .253  .345  .422
    COMMENT: James projects Werth to produce pretty close to his career norms; ZiPS says he'll more closely resemble the disappointing 2011 version.
    2013 ACTUAL	532  25  82  .318  .398  .532
    2012 Actual     658  17  56  .247  .315  .402
    2013 James      602  21  66  .253  .327  .434
    2013 ZiPS       653  20  66  .235  .308  .403
    COMMENT: The Nationals hope Espinosa can make the kind of strides in his third big-league season that Desmond did in his. James and ZiPS see more of the same in 2013.
    2013 ACTUAL	167   3  12  .158  .193  .272 
    2012 Actual     668   4  41  .283  .342  .395
    2013 James      593   5  50  .281  .350  .379
    2013 ZiPS       568   4  42  .273  .330  .380
    COMMENT: Neither projection deviates much from Span's 2012 numbers, but James thinks he'll perform slightly better than ZiPS does.
    2013 ACTUAL	662   4  47  .279  .327  .380
    2012 Actual     442   6  43  .235  .276  .328
    2013 James      424   8  47  .247  .306  .360
    2013 ZiPS       509  12  63  .263  .308  .400
    COMMENT: Suzuki finished the season strong. ZiPS seems to think that was the sign of an upward trend; James seems to think it was a mere blip.
    2013 ACTUAL	316   5  32  .232  .290  .337
    2013 NATS ONLY  281   3  25  .222  .283  .310
    2012 Actual     96    3  10  .265  .354  .398
    2013 James      446  13  50  .269  .324  .426
    2013 ZiPS       311   9  34  .260  .314  .411
    COMMENT: Both projection methods believe Ramos can make a full recovery from a torn ACL and produce like he did as a rookie. The question is how much playing time he'll get.
    2013 ACTUAL 	303  16  59  .272  .307  .470
    2012 Actual     261   5  25  .291  .372  .405
    2013 James      348   8  32  .272  .343  .408
    2013 ZiPS       369   9  31  .248  .317  .385
    COMMENT: Bernadina figures to be the first guy off the bench if a starting outfielder gets hurt. These projections suggest he's still best off when he doesn't play on a daily basis.
    2013 ACTUAL 	250   4  11  .181  .250  .295
    2013 NATS ONLY  167   2   6  .178  .247  .270
    2012 Actual     171  10  29  .263  .327  .513
    2013 James      250  13  47  .259  .315  .491
    2013 ZiPS       479  20  71  .233  .280  .433
    COMMENT: Moore would put up some big power numbers if he played regularly, but his batting average and OBP would probably suffer for it.
    2013 ACTUAL 	178   4  21  .222  .260  .347
    2012 Actual	416   3  27  .273  .317  .354
    2013 James      348   4  28  .293  .339  .399
    2013 ZiPS       584   5  42  .267  .316  .372
    COMMENT: As is the case with Moore, the projections suggest Lombardozzi wouldn't be as productive as an everyday player at this early stage of his career. 
    2013 ACTUAL	307   2  22  .259  .278  .338
    • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 10, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      That was nice of you to put together. Nice to compare to the projections. Also interesting who was above and below. Desmond beat the projections as did Werth. Some like Harper were hard to compare due to games missed but on a per PA basis Bryce was slightly ahead of their projections.

  15. Joe Seamhead - Oct 11, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    I think that they use a dart board to come up with some of their projections. Some are right on, some are off by a mile, just like many of ours.





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