The Washington Nationals have two capable starting first basemen. The ideal situation is to platoon the two, allowing them to play to their strengths.
The Washington Nationals have an excess of talented bats.
At the first base position, the Nats have a two-time All-Star Ryan Zimmerman, who is two years removed from his All-Star season in 2017. He came back down to Earth last season, but still posted a respectable .824 OPS.
Additionally, the Nats brought back Matt Adams who cranked out 18 home runs in his short tenure in D.C. last season before getting traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Both of these players are incredibly talented, so each should get playing time. The best way to do that is to play to each player’s strengths. In this case, that means splitting the playing time by platooning the two.
The numbers bear this out quite clearly. Zimmerman posted a monstrous 1.143 OPS against left-handed pitchers while recording a below-average .718 OPS against right-handed pitchers.
Adams is the exact opposite. He hit for a .811 OPS with a .253 ISO against right-handed pitchers, while only stepping to the plate 43 times against a lefty. It was for a good reason, as Adams’ career OPS against left-handed pitchers is .596.
This exact case was made last year, and the main pushback against this idea was how Zimmerman is not entirely awful against right-handed pitchers, and he was great against them in 2017, so he should start the majority of games for the Nats.
That claim is indeed valid. Zimmerman’s career OPS against right-handed pitchers is .791, only slightly below what Adams posted last year. However, Zimmerman is 34 years old and is often hurt.
One thing all Nationals fans can agree on is that when Zimmerman is on the field and healthy, he changes the dynamic of the Nationals lineup, regardless of the opposing pitchers’ handedness.
To keep Zimmerman healthy, he needs regular rest. Platooning him with Adams is the best way to do that while still maintaining a competitive edge over opponents.