OK, this has been on my mind since last September, when Zimmerman hit .361 with no home runs. Nagging little thought then, but growing as this year has progressed.
Since the middle of August 2010 (that is, just about one year), Ryan Zimmerman has hit only 6 home runs. In terms of ABs (since the guy's been injured a lot, both at the end of last year and obviously this year), those 6 home runs have been over the last 342 ABs. This, after hitting 24 HRs in his first 393 ABs last year, and hitting 33 HRs in 2009.
But it's not just homers: his slugging % is down to .433 this year, and if it ended like that, it would be his lowest SLG% ever.
Now, this is in no way a condemnation of my favorite all-time Nats player: over that same period, batting for average is something Ryan seems to have gotten even better at: as mentioned above, he finished up last year hitting .361 in September, finishing over .300 for a year for the first time in his career. And now that he's managed to put this year's injury behind him, he's getting base hits like crazy these past couple of weeks (average up from .251 on July 26 to .295 today!).
Is it time to reconsider whether Zimmy is really a 25 HR player for the Nats? Maybe 10-15 from now on? And is that even a bad thing, if what he's done (which is the underlying thought to this post) is that he has changed his approach at the plate to put more emphasis on the average rather than the power? If Ryan wants to be a .300 hitter, and if doing so means hitting a few less homers (and driving in fewer runs, of course), what's the objection? Especially if we have guys behind him who can drive him in?
I suspect some of you will suggest it's too early to come to the conclusion that he's no longer a real power hitter: and certainly with the injuries that could be a fair thing to say, too. But to me it seems more like a concerted approach - I thought hitting .300 last year seemed pretty important to him, important to the point of taking a specific approach to attaining it.
What say you?