The Washington Nationals offense took a hit after the departure of Bryce Harper, but veteran Ryan Zimmerman can be the X-Factor to make this offense great.
Mr. Walk-Off has had some fantastic moments in his Nationals career, but no season may be as pivotal as the upcoming one. For the first time since signing a six-year contract extension in 2014, Zimmerman enters this year with an uncertain future with the Nationals.
2018 was a rough year overall for the Nats first basemen. After not playing at all during spring training, Zimmerman battled injuries the entire season and only appeared in 85 games.
Although he was not on the field a ton, Zimmerman produced when he was in the lineup, finishing with a final slash line of .264/.337/.486/ to go with 13 home runs and 51 runs batted in.
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This was not an outstanding season for Zimmerman, but he did play much better down the final stretch of the season as he finally started to get healthy.
For the Nats and Zimmerman, the key to having him succeed seems to be finding a way to keep him on the field. In 2017 Zimmerman was fully healthy all season and was spectacular. He hit .308, to go with a career-high 36 home runs and 108 runs batted in.
It was clear watching the 2017 season how much of an impact Zimmerman had on the rest of the offense. Hitting in the four-hole most of that season, his production forced teams to pitch to the players in front of him, which in turn made them more productive.
Washington as a team played exceptionally well that season, winning the National League East and 97 games overall.
The Nationals seem to have a better plan for Zimmerman this spring, and manager Davey Martinez made it clear multiple times that he wants Zimmerman to be on the field a decent amount this spring, which is a significant change from their stance last season.
When Zimmerman is healthy, and on the field, he is a force to be reckoned with in the Nationals lineup.
Without Bryce Harper in the fold this season, Zimmerman is truly the X-Factor for this Nationals offense. If the 15-year veteran is healthy and hitting the ball well, the Nationals could have one of the best offenses in the league.
Zimmerman being able to swing well and in the lineup, every day will significantly help Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon who figure to hit before him in the lineup. Teams will not be able to just throw junk to the Nationals’ two best hitters, and not be worried about getting to Zimmerman.
As it stands right now, the Nationals have a pretty good offense as a whole. If they want to take the next step and have as dominant of an offense as their pitching staff figures to be, Zimmerman has to be on the field and playing the way we all know he is capable of.