Oct 15, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2016: 31
How acquired: 1st round pick, 2005 draft
MLB service time: 10 years, 32 days
2015 salary+bonuses: $14 million
Contract status: Signed for $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
2015 stats: 95 G, 390 PA, 43 R, 86 H, 25 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 73 RBI, 1 SB, 33 BB, 79 SO, .249 AVG, .308 OBP, .465 SLG, .773 OPS, 4 E, -2.2 UZR, 0.7 WAR
Quotable: “I know he wants to play a full season. And boy, if he can do that, it can be pretty impressive.” — Matt Williams on Ryan Zimmerman
2015 analysis: This was supposed to be the year Ryan Zimmerman rediscovered himself. No longer worried about making throws across the diamond from third base, he would excel at first base and get more at-bats because of less wear and tear on his body. Except it didn’t work out that way.
Zimmerman, like others in the Nationals’ lineup, struggled through most of April. Then once he did get hot in May, he suffered yet another in a long list of nagging injuries that ultimately hindered his ability to play to full potential. This time, it was plantar fasciitis, which he tried to play through for a few weeks but wound up requiring another lengthy DL stint (seven weeks).
Unlike others who needed time to find their stroke following a long absence from the lineup, Zimmerman hit well right away. Then he really took off in late August, hitting .435 with six homers, 18 RBI and a 1.330 OPS over an 11-game stretch … before another nagging injury knocked him out again. A strained oblique muscle didn’t land Zimmerman on the DL, but it did prevent him from playing in any of the Nats’ final 25 games.
And so another season went in the books with the longtime face of the franchise unable to appear in enough games to allow him to put together the numbers he has proven he can post when healthy. He finished with the lowest batting average, on-base percentage and OPS of his 11-year career.
2016 outlook: It’s pretty simple at this point: If he can just stay on the field enough to play 140-plus games (something he has done only twice in the last five years), Zimmerman will be a highly productive player and a force in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup. Can he actually do that? That’s where things are no longer simple.
Zimmerman spoke of a renewed emphasis on conditioning this winter, recognizing that what worked for him in his 20s probably won’t work for him in the 30s. He wants to report to spring training with increased flexibility, among other things, trying to avoid the kind of muscle strains that have hurt him in the past.
That said, many of Zimmerman’s significant injuries have been flukes that can’t be prevented with better conditioning (broken thumb, plantar fasciitis). So the Nationals can’t simply assume he’ll avoid the DL in 2016. What they’ll need to decide is whether they’re comfortable enough with Clint Robinson as Plan B at first base, or whether they need to bolster their bench with a more proven bat.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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