Jun 30, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) throws to first on a weak grounder by New York Mets third baseman David Wright (not pictured) at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Zimmerman: What To Do…


There has been a discussion for a little while now that Ryan Zimmerman can no longer play third base with consistency. I tend to agree with this statement. Zimmerman does have the most throwing errors since 2011. It isn’t just his arm that is an issue either, it is his range as well.

Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Zimmerman has lost a step or two range wise at third base and he is going to be beginning the first year of his six year extension in 2014. So for the next six years the Nats and the fans get to see Ryan Zimmerman overthrow the first baseman, or watch a ball roll into left field because he didn’t have the foot speed or range to field it. That is an issue for me.

One thing needs to happen. Either you play Ryan Zimmerman at first base, or you play Ryan Zimmerman at first base. It is that simple. He doesn’t have the ability to play third base any longer. He may think he is 100%, but we will see about that. He may be 100% in April with his arm, but what happens when in July it starts to hurt and throws start to sail again? Do you just leave him and allow opposing teams to get more outs because of him? That is a decision Matt Williams may have to make.

Like I said, his range is becoming worse and worse every season. Either he can’t get to the ball at all, or he gets to it, but isn’t able to throw the runner out because of his less than stellar arm strength. He can field a ball in the five-six hole all he wants, but if he can’t finish the play by recording an out, it was all for nothing. They mark that in the scorebook as a hit, not an out.

Scott Eastment already addressed this in his Nats Future Infield post, but I felt that it needed emphasis. LaRoche is coming off one of his worst seasons in the big leagues and Zim one of his worst defensively. If things don’t work out early in the season, I don’t see why the switch isn’t made. It will be tough to get rid of LaRoche because of his contract, but I would eat some of the money, just to have a more athletic infield overall, and that includes Ryan Zimmerman at first base.

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  • NatsMan

    I would like to see Zim’s UZR over his career and also his UZR compared to other ML 3rd basemen to back up what you say about his range. Could you provide those numbers?

    • Ryan Ritchey

      Over the entirety of his career he has been good, but as of late not as good. That is the point of the article. He has been regressing a lot here lately. Over the past five years combined his UZR is 8.4 which ranks 11th of all qualified 3B during that time frame. Over the past three years combined his UZR is -17.3 which ranks 16th out of 19 qualified 3B during that time frame.

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  • DavidE

    his arm-strength last year returned midway. can you compare UZR stats from one half to the next of a single season? i bet his 2nd half UZR stats were near career level after fully recovering from the shoulder surgery.