Ryan Zimmerman is a contributing factor why the Washington Nationals are tops in the National League, and the first baseman could join an exclusive club by season’s end if he continues destroying the baseball.
The Washington Nationals leaped ahead in the National League on the heels of a strong start from the lineup.
Their starting rotation has been impressive, but the club’s ability to score runs at a blistering rate is a significant reason they’re first in the NL East and have the best record in the Senior Circuit at 24-13. The Nationals lead the majors with 224 runs scored, and the team is receiving contributions from everyone in the lineup.
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Manager Dusty Baker must be thrilled filling out his lineup card for every game, knowing that any individual can provide a spark for the offense.
One person who stands out for the Nats is their first baseman, Ryan Zimmerman.
Zimmerman has been locked in at the plate since Opening Day and opposing pitchers have faced an uphill battle trying to cool him down.
He leads the NL in hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, batting average and slugging percentage with 50, 14, 13, 36, .385 and .792 respectively. It’s been one of the best storylines throughout the 2017 MLB season.
Zimmerman endured struggles last season, by hitting a meager .218 in 115 games with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs. This wasn’t the version of the first baseman that people around the nation’s capital had grown accustomed to seeing. He spent time on the disabled list and it certainly impacted him at the plate.
Upon returning from the DL, Zimmerman never appeared comfortable at the plate, which led to a sub-par season.
Fast forward to 2017, the first baseman is healthy and crushing the baseball to all parts of the field. The Nationals infielder is more relaxed in the batter’s box and has positioned himself to have one of the best seasons of his career.
The other interesting aspect about Zimmerman’s hot start is regarding him chasing history. A great achievement for a hitter to earn over the course of a long season is the Triple Crown.
There have been 16 (10 times in the American League, six times in the NL) instances of a player winning the triple crown in the history of the sport, per ESPN.
The last occurrence was in 2012 when Miguel Cabrera had a season for the ages with the Detroit Tigers. Cabrera posted a .330 average with 44 home runs and 139 RBI, while earning MVP honors that year.
In case you’re wondering the last time an NL player won the triple crown, that hasn’t transpired since 1937. Hall-of-Famer Joe Medwick as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals hit .374 with 31 homers and 154 RBI. Medwick also won the NL MVP Award the same year.
Yes, it’s been 80 years since a player from the NL has been able to pace the league in those three areas.
Zimmerman has a terrific chance of breaking that 80-year curse for the NL, considering he is the league-leader in the three groups needed.
Through 36 games, Zimmerman is on a pace that’s similar to what Medwick achieved in 1937. Zimmerman boasts a .385 batting average with 50 hits, 13 home runs, and 36 RBI. Medwick, through 36 games had a .410 average with 55 hits, nine home runs, and 38 RBI.
The key for Zimmerman is avoiding a prolonged slump to maintain his lead in the three vital statistics to make history.
It won’t be easy for Zimmerman to keep up this pace for the entire season, but if there were one player who has the best chance of hitting for the triple crown in 2017, Zimmerman would be the favorite.