Nationals: Even as bench player, Ryan Zimmerman face of franchise
He may be a part-time player and defensive replacement this year, but Ryan Zimmerman is still the face of the Nationals franchise.
After agreeing to a one year contract worth $1M, Ryan Zimmerman will be back with the Washington Nationals for the 2021 season. Even though his role has changed and he will strictly be a backup first baseman, he is still the face of the franchise.
Juan Soto is exciting to watch and his bat-carrying to first/dancing on top of dugout behavior will one day be the first image in the minds of Nationals fans. However, as long as Zimmerman is on the team, his fifteen years worth of heroics are what Nats fans should recall first.
After opting out of the 2020 season, and watching the Nationals struggle through an error filled, injury plagued, sixty-games worth of mostly turmoil, Zimmerman is back.
Not to say Zimmerman is immune to what hampered the Nationals last season. He is not. Zimmerman committed 21 errors at third base in 2013, followed by shoulder issues (and other ailments) which kept him out all but 61 games in 2014, Ryan moved across the diamond in 2015 to take over at first base.
The emergence of Anthony Rendon made replacing Zim at third base easy, while this year the Nationals hope the power stroke of newly acquired Josh Bell does the same.
Zimmerman has been front and center for every major happening for the franchise. The first overall draft selection, the first walk-off home run at Nationals Stadium, the first World Series home run. Who introduced Stephen Strasburg to Nationals fans? Zim. Who has stayed put to play in Washington while others signed free agent contracts elsewhere? Zim. Who carries the nickname Mr. National? Is there a Mr. Dodger, a Mr. Red Sox, a Mr. Met (well, yes, and that guy makes me smile every time I see him)?
Regardless of the capacity he plays, this is Ryan Zimmerman’s franchise. For as good as Max Scherzer has been in a Nationals uniform, it’s not his team. With Strasburg’s contract extension making it a possibility he only pitches for one team in his career, it’s still not his team. Maybe Juan Soto will have an MVP caliber season and take over the team once Zimmerman rides off into the sunset.
At this point though. Ryan Zimmerman is still the face of the franchise.