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After solid series, Zimmerman hoping to get back on track

May 11, 2015, 9:16 AM EDT

May 9, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) hits a three run home run during the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

When the Nationals were scuffling at the plate for the majority of April, the club remained confident that most of its veterans would soon begin performing up to the level of their track records.

And if this past weekend is any indication, the hope is that might be the case with Ryan Zimmerman. During the three-game sweep of the Braves, he went 5-for-12 with a double, a home run and five RBI — a sign that perhaps the longtime National infielder is beginning to rediscover his power stroke.

“His timing is getting there,” Matt Williams said. “You miss most of last year and it’s not like it’s riding a bike. You just don’t pick it up again. So the timing’s starting to come.”

It’s been two years since the Nats have seen a fully healthy, productive Zimmerman. He spent much of 2014 on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury, and was never really himself when he returned late in the season. When he’s right, however, Williams knows he can pencil in a corner infielder who’s usually good for 20-plus home runs and close to 100 RBI year in and year out.

With last year’s injury troubles behind him, Zimmerman hasn’t panicked because his start to the season hasn’t been up to his usual standards. Just under a month and a half into the season, he’s hitting just .232. But on the flip side, he’s notched 22 RBI, second on the team only to the guy he hits behind, the sizzling Bryce Harper.

“You know it’s kind of funny because my average obviously isn’t what I want it to be, but I feel good at the plate,” Zimmerman said after Sunday’s 5-4 victory. “Usually when you’re having success and the numbers look like what they look like, you’re struggling, you feel lost. But honestly all season I felt great.”

“He’s going to get going, everybody knows that,” added Harper. “Zim’s such a good hitter so being able to have a guy like that behind me is huge. Being able to have a guy that’s gonna see a lot of pitches, gonna drive me in most of the time. Hopefully I can get 100 runs cause he’s gonna get 100 RBIs.”

For much of his tenure in D.C., Zimmerman has been one of the few constants in the Nats batting order. But since the team’s transformation into a playoff contender and the emergence of young guns like Harper, it’s been easy to forget (for some, anyway) the consistent production the mild-mannered Virginia native has given the organization over the years.

As for 2015, Zimmerman is confident that he’s still got it, and that by the end of the season, he’ll post the type of numbers that many Nats are accustomed to seeing from him.

“I’ve done the same thing for 10 years now,” Zimmerman said. “And by the end of the year, it’s always worked. So I’ve just got to trust that and stick with it and grind it out.”

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - May 11, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    The Zman really stepped it up over the weekend and his RBIs and baserunning and defense were highlights!

  2. nats128 - May 11, 2015 at 9:31 AM

    “You know it’s kind of funny because my average obviously isn’t what I want it to be, but I feel good at the plate,” Zimmerman said after Sunday’s 5-4 victory. “Usually when you’re having success and the numbers look like what they look like, you’re struggling, you feel lost. But honestly all season I felt great.”

    His average with RISP is .317 and that is clutch. The RBIs are there. Outside plate coverage was good this weekend and he took advantage of mistake pitches and was handsomely rewarded with 2 or 3 broken bat singles.

  3. Eugene in Oregon - May 11, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    By the end of the season, I fully expect Ryan Zimmerman’s aggregate production to be somewhere near his historial norms. Right now, his BABIP is .255, while his career BABIP is .316. That will likely go up, giving him better slash line stats. And, as other folks have noted, warm weather will help some of the power numbers. By the end of the season, I anticipate that he’ll have earned his full paycheck (at least in WAR terms).

  4. veejh - May 11, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Now, if JDub could get back on track and Rendon get healthy…

    • adcwonk - May 11, 2015 at 10:07 AM

      Werth has gotten hits in 3 of his last 4 games — so I suspect he’ll be getting on track any moment now.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 11, 2015 at 10:10 AM

      If that happens this team could be unstoppable.

  5. adcwonk - May 11, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    The starter for Ariz tonight is Josh Collmenter. He’s no slacker. He’s started 6 games and has a complete game shutout. And he’s only issued 3 walks.

    It’s great for us that we have Scherzer going tonight against him.

  6. scnatsfan - May 11, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    You know Zim will have that stretch when he gets hot and carries the team. Just a matter of time.

  7. alexva6 - May 11, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    my concern with RZim will always be his health, not his production when healthy.

    MW not giving him an occasional day off is troubling.

    • nats128 - May 11, 2015 at 10:49 AM

      The effects usually dont get felt now on the rest, it gets felt later in the season. It was good to see Span get a day off.

    • adcwonk - May 11, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      Well, he did get Thursday and today off! 😉

      Prior to his injury plagued year last year, he played in 147 and 145 games in 2012 and 2013. He’s a very durable guy.

      • alexva6 - May 11, 2015 at 11:54 AM

        true enough but even at that pace he still would have had 2-3 games off by now.

        so far – zero

      • adcwonk - May 11, 2015 at 11:57 AM

        I hear ya’. Sometime in the middle of that 16-game stretch might have been a good time.

  8. natsjackinfl - May 11, 2015 at 10:23 AM

    What a fantastic week I had in DC. The weather was perfect and the baseball was, except for Strasburgs little hiccup, perfect too.

    5-1 for the week and even saw the P-Nats and Reynaldo Lopez.

    As for Zim, he is a professionals pro in everything he does. His play at 1st base is GG worthy and he is starting to provide solid protection for the beast that bats in front of him.

    This west coast trip should be fun to watch. My only concern is Strasburg and his penchant for constant perfection and his obvious anger at not achieving it.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 11, 2015 at 10:38 AM

      I envy you getting a week in Washington. This summer’s travel plans aren’t going to let me do that (albeit for a good reason). Anyway, on Stephen Strasburg’s ‘hiccup’: Whatever happened (shoulder, ankle, perfectionism) the reality is that the Nats only gave up two runs in that game. The real issue there was the Nats’ failure to score more than one run off Matt Latos and his 5.60 ERA (and that’s after allowing only one run in 6 innings).

      • natsjackinfl - May 11, 2015 at 10:41 AM

        Yeah, I agree. But Latos actually had another decent outing yesterday so maybe he’s finally getting to where he used to be in San Diego.

        The bats were working all the other games.

      • nats128 - May 11, 2015 at 10:53 AM

        Fun times at Nats Park. Tuesday was a bummer. Rain delay and the Strasburg thing was a downer. The rest of the week and weekend was fantastic! Seeing Bryce do historic things was hopefully just a start to the norm as Bryce kind of told the media that was what he expects of himself every game.

  9. nats128 - May 11, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    Listening to 106.7. Grant Pausen kind of dissed the weekend sweep of the Braves as he has them as a creampuff team. Does he remeber that on April 15th the Barves were in 1st Place?

    Grant is a Oreo fan as he has self-described himself. Dont ever downplay a sweep of any team. As the Cubs and Dodgers both found out that the Brewers can still create some offense.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 11, 2015 at 11:08 AM

      But that’s the whole point: 1st place teams need to sweep (more-or-less) the creampuffs, play .600ish ball against the 2nd tier, then play roughly .500 ball against each other.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 11, 2015 at 11:37 AM

        To be fair, it’s not like the Braves were finding ways to lose — unforced errors, awful throws, tootblans, etc. They were getting beaten by a better team. So they all count, but it’s not fair to just dismiss it as unearned.

      • nats128 - May 11, 2015 at 11:39 AM

        They are a lesser team but not a creampuff and sweeping anyone is tough to do.

      • bowdenball - May 11, 2015 at 11:41 AM

        If you sweep the creampuffs (assume 60 games a season), play .600 ball against the 2nd tier (assume 80 games a season) and play roughly .500 ball against the other first place teams, you end up with 119 wins.

        I don’t think they need to shatter the all-time MLB record for wins in a season by three games.

        Here’s what first place teams need to do: finish with a better record than the four other teams in the division. It honestly is as simple as that. There’s no measuring sticks, there’s no games that count more than others or results you have to get to prove anything to anyone. The 2014 Giants got swept by the Padres in September. The 2013 Red Sox lost 3 of 4 to the Royals in August.

      • adcwonk - May 11, 2015 at 11:55 AM

        bowdenball wrote:

        If you sweep the creampuffs (assume 60 games a season), play .600 ball against the 2nd tier (assume 80 games a season) and play roughly .500 ball against the other first place teams, you end up with 119 wins.

        +1

        Event the worst teams win more than 1 in 3.

        I suspect that winning 2 of 3 against the easy teams and just splitting with the good teams gets you a into the playoffs. (hey, bowdenball, might you want to compute that for us, too?)

        Further, the Braves have some great players (Freeman, Markakis, Simmons — and two of them are only age 25), and some really good pitchers (Wood, Miller, Teheran — all age 24, btw). They’re not a cream-puff team. (Perhaps the Phils are, but nobody else in the NL East is).

        Fact is, the Nats were _behind_ them in the standings on Friday morning. Sweeping is never easy, and it’s (obviously) much more rare to sweep a team ahead of you.

        (How many sweeps did we have in all of last year?)

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 11, 2015 at 12:37 PM

        And just to be clear, I wasn’t suggesting a literal sweep of every ‘creampuff’ (meaning lower tier) series. Hence the more-or-less modifier. A better word would have been dominate. But I do think there is a formula of sorts that division-winning teams follow: In broad terms, dominate the bad teams, win a majority against the average teams, and split with the other division-winning teams.

      • bowdenball - May 11, 2015 at 1:08 PM

        Even if you didn’t sweep a single series against the creampuffs but instead won them all 2-1, and followed the rest of that formula vs first place teams (.500) and second tier teams (.600), you’d still win 99 games. That’s more than any team has won since 2011.

        The point is that a sweep of a major league team is a notable accomplishment, creampuff team or no. Saying otherwise reflects a lack of understanding of the game, which I suppose isn’t surprising coming from a talk radio host who made his bones covering the Redskins. And that’s before we get to the question of whether a team that enters the series at .500 and starts Teheran and Wood over the weekend qualifies as a creampuff team (they don’t).

      • Section 222 - May 11, 2015 at 1:49 PM

        bb, totally agree that dissing a sweep because it came against the Braves is stupid. But to call a sweep a notable accomplishment perhaps is a little over the top. Series sweeps happen all the time. The Pirates swept the Brewers, the Cards swept the Pirates, the Marlins swept the Nats (4 games!), the Nats swept the Braves. That’s all within a few weeks. If you sweep a team then you can lose a series to another team and it’s as if you won both series. That’s how I like to look at it. Insurance wins, or something. But it doesn’t make you unbeatable that’s for sure.

    • letswin3 - May 11, 2015 at 12:34 PM

      Some guy on the radio is just that, some guy on the radio … I can think of around a dozen guys who post on this site that I would rather listen to. Unsupported opinions are like #@*^^!&, everyone has one … ummm we can’t be crude on here now, can we. The point is that this is a team that was down something like 8 games just a blink or two ago, and now the rest of the league is looking in the rear-view mirror. And this is all without Rendon, Janssen and a 100% Werth.

      • nats128 - May 11, 2015 at 12:38 PM

        Grant Paulson did a nice interview with Bryce.

        Before they aired the taped interview Grant & Danny came to a concensus that Werth should bat around .245 this year.

        I think that was meant to be a compliment.

  10. tcostant - May 11, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    Just stay healthy, the rest will take care of itself.

  11. homeparkdc - May 11, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    Does Harper in the batter’s box count as a runner in scoring position?

    [The above was blatantly stolen from another place.]

    • nats128 - May 11, 2015 at 11:51 AM

      Thats accurate. When you drive yourself in 40+ times a year like Adam Dunn used to they would say he was in RISP as soon as he grabbed a bat.

      This team could get to all new heights with a healthy Rendon and the rest of these players producing.

      I look foward to how this lineup will look top to bottom with Rendon and a better producing group of veterans with RZ and Werth.

      Espi has stepped up his game and so has Uggla. That 0-2 at-bat where he pulled a ball down the leftfield line and just missed a double that went foul and still worked a walk drives the opposing pitchers crazy and runs up the pitch count.

      There was a stretch last year that the Nats were averaging on offense 5 runs a game and the pitchers were just shutting the door.

      • homeparkdc - May 11, 2015 at 12:43 PM

        Thanks for mentioning Espi. His D is consistent and I’m a big fan, but this new hitting…afraid to talk about it…
        And don’t forget about Escobar. The guy that keeps on keepin’ on. Don’t know the Padres. Will try to do a crash course in the next couple of hours. Go Nats !!

        Re: Adam Dunn. Here’s an article I saved when he retired
        http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/a-farewell-to-adam-dunn-sabermetric-bellwether/

      • nats128 - May 11, 2015 at 12:45 PM

        Nice!

      • raleighnat - May 11, 2015 at 1:24 PM

        I don’t know if Rendon takes us to another level…..Espi has been playing at that level. Granted I will be thrilled to get Rendon back because he will be more likely (by a lot) to maintain the production.

        Espi’s play does give the team the luxury of waiting until Rendon is really 100%….no need to rush anything. He should be given plenty of rehab starts in the minors to make sure he’s locked in when he gets here.

    • ArVAFan - May 11, 2015 at 1:46 PM

      +1.

      Nah, make that +6

  12. Doc - May 11, 2015 at 11:28 AM

    Zim is coming, and will soon put it all together–it’s just a matter of time.

    I kinda think that as he goes deeper into his 30’s he will need to tone down that high leg kick. Love his GG play at 1st.

    • jfmii - May 11, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      Love Zim, but he is not at GG level yet. Has a lot of work to do regarding catching the difficult and unusual throws, pickoffs, etc. Certainly, HIS throws have pleasantly not been an issue.

      • infideljack - May 11, 2015 at 12:17 PM

        Disagree strongly. Zim is definitely having a GG year and he is a huge improvement ovet the cement footed ALR. He has saved a ton of XBH’s and runs that would have gone through before.

      • jfmii - May 11, 2015 at 2:19 PM

        Having a gold glove and being a huge improvement over the 2014 version of ALR are two different things. We all knew he would handle batted balls at a GG level. I personally think he will eventually nr playing at a GG level in all aspects of fielding the position. But he is not there yet.

    • Section 222 - May 11, 2015 at 12:19 PM

      Zim has been a pleasant surprise at first, but I agree he still has things to work on. His backhand scoops are kind of a crapshoot. So far no throwing errors, which is awesome. And it was great to see him driving the ball this weekend. He can be a very dangerous hitter, and as the league recognizes that the best approach to Bryce is to walk him, Zim’s going to get a lot of oppotunities with men on base.

      It’s funny to hear MW’s explanation: — “His timing is getting there,” Matt Williams said. “You miss most of last year and it’s not like it’s riding a bike. You just don’t pick it up again. So the timing’s starting to come.”

      Wait, I thought Zim was a guy who doesn’t need many swings to get his timing back. In fact, I’ll bet MW has said exactly that along the way somewhere. Maybe if all the time he missed last year was an issue he should have taken another 20-30 ABs in spring training. Hmm.

      Maybe MW is just making stuff up though. It wouldn’t be the first time.

  13. manassasnatsfan - May 11, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    RZim has always hit well at Chase Field. I see a big series for him.

    One game at a time, one series at a time.

  14. NatsNut - May 11, 2015 at 9:51 PM

    Rest assured I haven’t forgotten. I haven’t forgotten one thing about how awesome this guy was and is.

    “…it’s been easy to forget (for some, anyway) the consistent production the mild-mannered Virginia native has given the organization over the years.”

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