Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been the informal Face of the Franchise ever since he became the first draft pick in Nationals history in 2005. Even while the team around him struggled, Zimmerman excelled. In seven full seasons, he has been an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and two Silver Sluggers, and received MVP votes three times, including after last season. His main nemesis has been the injury bug, as he has missed 15+ games in four of the last five seasons and 55+ in two of those since playing in all 162 games in 2007. Injuries were also the story of his 2012 season. On June 23rd, Zimmerman went 0-4 to drop his stat line to .218/.285/.305 with three home runs as he dealt with inflammation in his right shoulder. He famously received a pain-numbing cortisone shot before his next game, and proceeded to play out of his mind. In the season’s remaining 93 games, he missed only three and hit .321/.383/.584 with 22 home runs (a 40-homer pace). It appears that if he can stay healthy, the sky’s the limit in 2013, but that’s a big “if”. Of course, we can’t expect a full season’s worth of the great output Zimmerman had in the second half of 2012, and our projectors are settling on a slightly conservative, but healthy, forecast for 2013:
ZiPS: 548 AB, .280/.348/.471, 87 RBI, 83 RS, 4 SB, 23 HR
MLB.com: 589 AB, .287/.358/.496, 98 RBI, 91 RS, 4 SB, 27 HR
CBSSports: 565 AB, .287/.355/.501, 100 RBI, 93 RS, 3 SB, 27 HR
ESPN Fantasy: 585 AB, .292/.361/.489, 95 RBI, 92 RS, 5 SB, 26 HR
Averages: 572 AB, .287/.356/.489, 95 RBI, 90 RS, 4 SB, 26 HR
Although this isn’t the mind-boggling statline one might hope for, it’s still an extremely good one. Every triple slash number matches or exceedes Zimmerman’s career averages, and the home run projection is greater than his career 162-game average. At these numbers, Zimmerman would be a top-ten and borderline top-five fantasy third baseman, and combined with his stellar fielding, would have him in consideration for most major positional awards at season’s end. However, with an even stronger lineup around him and a fully healthy year ahead of him for 2013, it would come as no surprise for Zimmerman to exceed these expectations. If he can be had for a bargain in your draft, he’ll be a nice upside play in your lineup, with an outside shot at the MVP form he flashed late last year. Even without that, he will be a productive everyday lineup member if he stays healthy. As a Nat, he will continue to be a fan favorite and organizational cornerstone out of his new batting slot, cleanup, even as the younger players like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg come into their own and challenge his spot as the Face of the Franchise.