The popular Washington Nationals slugger is in a huge slump the second half. What is best for Ryan Zimmerman and the team prepping for October?
Since starting the All-Star Game in Miami, Zimmerman’s production has plummeted. His slash line over the last 21 games is .195/.250/.429. A far cry from the .335/.380/.625 over his first 80 games.
August’s early numbers are worse. Hitting 2-for-23 in seven games, the slash line reads .087/.192/.130. Yes, his slugging percentage is lower than the on-base percentage. Never a good sign. When you look at his BAbip numbers, they are not an improvement.
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In July when making contact Zimmerman hit .245. This month, it drops to .143 His OPS adjusts to -9 or 109 percent below-average production.
Has Zimmerman hit the proverbial wall? Is he injured? Why has he slumped so fast?
He is on pace for his busiest season since 2013. That year, Zimmerman played 147 games, slugged 26 home runs while hitting .275. Then the injuries hit, limiting the next two campaigns under 100 games before 115 in 2016. A simple explanation is fatigue.
With a huge lead in the National League East, there is no reason Zimmerman should play every day. If this is an issue of too much, balance his rest as Dusty Baker does with Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper to a degree. Murphy can play first. Wilmer Difo plays a solid second base. No reason when Trea Turner eventually returns to shift Murphy over.
Or, platoon Zimmerman with Adam Lind. Lind’s slash line of .305/.351/.511 is an asset. Save Zimmerman to pinch hit against right-handed relievers on those days. It gives Lind a semi-regular role after Jayson Werth and Michael Taylor come back.
If you remember, Zimmerman started Spring Training as cold as ice, then something clicked. Balls that were sharp grounders found gaps in the outfield. The first half of 2017 was the best of his illustrious career. After years of aches and pains, he was back.
As fast as the hot streak started, it came to an end. Wedged between Harper and Murphy in the lineup, Zimmerman is now an easy out hitting cleanup. In October, that cannot happen.
On the odd chance he is hurt, first base is a position holding depth. Lind and Murphy can play it. Howie Kendrick can learn it. If it is a nagging issue that is why the disabled list is 10 days. Once the wave of players come back, throw him on.
Whether it is additional video work or extended time in the whirlpool, the Nats need Zimmerman ready for the playoffs. He has earned the right to enjoy this year.