Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
As a Nationals fan who has grown up following the team since their relocation to D.C. in 2005, I am thankful for Ryan Zimmerman and everything he has contributed to this organization throughout his 11-year career. The former Face of the Franchise has been through it all with the Nats, whether it be enduring six consecutive losing seasons under four different managers or celebrating the team’s first playoff clincher in Nats (2005-present) history, Zim has been there.
While some historic franchises have the luxury of celebrating past greats like Joe DiMaggio or Sandy Koufax, the Nats are left with players from only the last ten seasons. Sure, their “franchise history” certainly includes the Expos, but Nats fans as a whole tend to disassociate themselves with the former team. Zimmerman, the Nats first ever draft pick and franchise leader in nearly every offensive statistic, represents everything the organization did to turn this team around.
For years, Zim managed the hot corner, making tough grounders look routine and displaying his cannon of an arm that helped land him a Gold Glove Award in 2009. He was the lone representative for the Nats at the All-Star Game that season, and won a Silver Slugger as well. While shoulder injuries pushed him over to first base and caused him to miss time in each of the last two seasons and in 2011, he has never posted a season with an OPS+ under 103 (aside from 2005, when he only appeared in 20 games).
Mr. Walk-Off has provided Nats fans with memories, historic performances, and a respectable presence on a team that used to lack all of the above. The longest-tenured player in team history may not have had the most spectacular 2015 campaign, but there is no doubt in my mind that I am most thankful for Ryan Zimmerman. And hey, he’s only 31. There may be room for another dominant season yet.
- Matt Weyrich, Staff Writer