Washington Nationals Analysis: Time To Be Concerned About Ryan Zimmerman’s Slow Start
By Ricky Keeler
The start of June has not been kind for the Washington Nationals in terms of offense. While they have only played six games, the team has scored a total of 15 runs, which is the worst in the National League. Manager Matt Williams decided to shuffle the lineup up before Friday night’s win as he hoped to get one specific player back on track. That player is first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
While Zimmerman does have 34 RBI’s this season, he has had a tough time getting into a hot streak. This month, he is 1-for-18 at the plate with one RBI. While he has hit the ball hard, the 30-year-old is not exactly getting the results that he had hoped for. He is hitting .213 on the season and has a BABIP of .232. Both of those stats are the worst of any first baseman in the National League.
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Right now, the problem for Zimmerman is he is not able to get on-base, especially when he is hitting behind Bryce Harper. His .270 on-base percentage is the lowest of any NL first baseman and ten points lower than Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies. On Friday, Williams moved him from the fifth spot in the order up to second, but he is 1-for-9 in those two games at the number two spot.
When you hit behind Bryce Harper, who is having a stellar season, you get more chances than practically anyone in the league to drive in runs. His 67 at-bats with runners in scoring position are 16 more than any other player on the Washington Nationals (Ian Desmond with 51) and second in the NL behind Matt Kemp (69). With runners in scoring position, Zimmerman is hitting .254 with two home runs and 28 RBI’s.
Another problem for the first baseman this season is that he has hit into a good amount of double plays this season. So far, he has grounded into ten double plays, which is the third highest total in the National League. It is clear when you watch him play that the plantar fasciitis he has had since mid-April is still playing a factor in how he runs the bases and how he does at the plate. However, it has not affected his defense as he taken to first base very well this season.
Will the stats eventually turn in the other direction? The odds are in Zimmerman’s favor that it will happen. He is a career .302 hitter in the second half of the season as opposed to hitting .266 in the first half. However, you could argue that Zimmerman’s struggles will continue when you look at the fact that he has a career .237 average in June, which is the lowest batting average of any month in his career.
You have to wonder if the 30-year-old first baseman is truly healthy at this point. It is still fairly early in the season to go into full panic mode on Zimmerman, but there needs to be a high level of concern. The hits will come, but the Nats need him to get back to being the player that had 20+ home runs from 2012 and 2013 before an injury plagued 2014. It is not time to panic, but the level on the concern meter has to be very high at this point.