Washington Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman comparable to Frank Howard

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: Former Washington Senator player Frank Howard greets Ryan Zimmerman
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: Former Washington Senator player Frank Howard greets Ryan Zimmerman /

Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has put together a terrific career in DC. We compare him to Frank Howard, another Washington legend.

Since he debuted in 2005, Ryan Zimmerman has been the face of the Washington Nationals. He has always been a fantastic player on the field, and an even better person off of it. For a recently established team, there are few men who could have been better leaders.

Because of this, Zimmerman is an all-time great, at least in Washington. Another all-time Washington great is Frank Howard, who played for the Senators from 1965-1971.

Like Zimmerman, Howard was a team leader on struggling ball clubs. Standing at 6’7, 255 pounds, it only seems natural that he was the face of the franchise. However, he was known for much more than just his size.

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“Hondo”, as he was affectionately called by fans, is one of the greatest players in Washington sports history. In his time with the Senators, he mashed 246 homers, as well as accumulating an incredible .277 batting average.

Throughout his career, Zimmerman has produced eerily similar stats. He has hit 251 homers, breaking the Washington record previously held by Howard, while hitting .280. Oddly enough five homers and three batting average points are all that separate the two legends.

In addition to being similar hitters, Zimmerman and Howard also played the same defensive positions. Howard was a first baseman and outfielder, while Zimmerman is a first baseman. Zimmerman has primarily been a corner infielder throughout his career, but he also has limited experience in the outfield.

What separates Howard from Zimmerman, however, is Howard’s track record of staying healthy. Injuries have marred Zimmerman’s otherwise unblemished career, while Howard rarely missed a game.

Throughout Howard’s seven seasons in DC, he only missed 57 games. While Howard played in a much different era than Zimmerman, missing an average of just 8 games per season is exceptional.

Being able to consistently play, while also producing all-star-caliber seasons, separated Howard from his peers. If there is one thing Zimmerman should aspire to emulate from Howard’s career, it is his ability to remain in the lineup.

Now that Howard’s playing career has long been finished, he is viewed as an all-time great in Washington. He also holds many of the city’s records, at least for the time being. Zimmerman broke his home run record last July, and he is well on his way to breaking several others.

When Zimmerman’s career comes to an end, he will be viewed in a similar light. He helped put the Nats on the map, and has led the way through thick and thin. In today’s game, when players routinely switch teams, Zimmerman is an exception. He has always wanted to be in Washington, which is worth praising in itself.

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Although 33 years separate Howard and Zimmerman’s Washington careers, they are very similar players. They will both go down as Washington sports legends, and there are no better people to represent the city. The two have established themselves as larger-than-life figures, and rightfully so.