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1/10/08 Is Ryan Zimmerman For Real?

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     On the day the Washington Nartonals drafted Ryan Zimmerman with the 4th pick in the 1st Round of the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft, mlb.com's Washington Nationals writer Bill Ladson wrote in his article, "Nats draft Zimmerman at No. 4", that sources within the organization had, "...already compared him to the likes of Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Troy Glaus."

     That succession of above-average third basemen excludes a few others like Chipper Jones, Miguel Cabrera and Scott Rolen, (who, at least physically, most closely resembles Zimmerman at bat and at third), all of whom provide a standard against which to measure the offensive development in the twenty-two year Zimmerman's three-year career.

     The 6'2'' 210 lb Ryan Zimmerman played three years at the University of Virginia during which he hit .308, .361, and .393 from 2003-2005, and then after being drafted, the native of Washington, North Carolina hit .471 in 4 games at Class A Savannah in the Nationals system, earning a quick jump to Double-AA Harrisburg where Zimmerman hit .326 in 63 games with 9 HR's and 32 RBI's in 233 at bats.

      That was good enough to earn Ryan Zimmerman a late-season call-up to DC, where, in his first professional season, Zimmerman hit .397 over his first 20 games with 10 doubles and 6 RBI's for the Nationals...

     But for the sake of comparison, let's look at the first two full seasons of each players' career...

     The man known in his time as "The Vacuum Cleaner" Brooks Robinson's first full season in the Majors came in 1958 with the Baltimore Orioles, who had signed Robinson as an eighteen year old out of Little Rock, Arkansas on the first day of the year in January in 1955.

     At twenty-one, Robinson hit .238 for the Orioles, with 110 hits in 463 at bats, 16 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs and 32 RBI's in 145 games of the '58 season. Robinson started 1959 in Triple-AAA Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .331 to earn a call back to the Majors, where "The Vacuum Cleaner" hit .284 in 88 games.

     1960 was Brooks Robinson's second full season, and it was the first of many during which he earned MVP consideration, (winning it in 1964), but in the '60 season, as a twenty-three year old, Robinson hit .294 with 27 doubles, 9 triples, 14 HR's and 88 RBI's.

     Michael Jack Schmidt debuted with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1972, playing just 205 games in the Phillies' system after being drafted out of Ohio State University with the 30th overall pick in the 2nd Round of the '71 Draft.  6'2'', 205 lb, "Mike" Schmidt played his first full season in Philadelphia in '73, batting .196 in 132 games and 367 at bats with 11 doubles, 18 HR's, and 52 RBI's.

     In '74 however, Mike Schmidt staked his claim on Philadelphia's hot corner, batting .282 in 162 games, with 160 hits in 568 at bats, 28 doubles, 7 triples, 36 HR's, 116 RBI's and 23 stolen bases, and it would be fifteen more years before the Phillies needed another third baseman.

     After the Schmidt era, it was seven years of Charlie Hayes and Dave Hollins before Scott Rolen debuted with the Phillies in 1996, three years after Philadelphia had drafted the eighteen year old native of Jasper, Indiana. Rolen's first full season in Philly in 1997 produced 159 hits, 35 doubles, 3 triples, 21 HR's, 92 RBI's and a Rookie of the Year award.

     Rolen followed that up with a .283 AVG in 156 games in the 1998 season, during which the 6'4'', 240 lb third baseman hit in 159 of 561 at bats with 35 doubles, 3 triples, 21 HR's and 92 RBI's...

     Meanwhile, out in LA...Troy Glaus was drafted out of UCLA by the Angels with the 3rd pick in the first round of the 1997 Draft, and one year later Glaus had debuted, hitting .218 with 9 doubles, 1 HR and 23 RBI's in his first 48 games as a 6'5'', 245 lb, twenty-one year old in 1998. In '99 Glaus hit .240 in 154 games with 132 hits hits in 551 at bats, collecting 29 doubles, 29 HR's and 79 RBI's and 14 steals.

     The next year, in 2000, Glaus played in 159 games, hitting in 160 of 563 at bats with 37 doubles, 47 HR's, 102 RBI's and 14 stolen bases. That season, Chipper Jones was on the way to his first MVP award, hitting .319 with 45 HR's and 110 RBI's in his sixth pro season.

     Chipper Jones was the 1st overall pick by Atlanta in the 1990 MLB Draft, and he debuted three years later, playing just 8 games for the Braves in 1993. According to wikipedia.org's Chipper Jones' profile, a torn ACL cost Jones the 1994 season, so his first full year was 1995. Jones hit .265 that year with 22 doubles, 23 HR's and 86 RBI's. In '96 Jones received serious MVP consideration, batting .309 with 32 doubles, 3 triples, 30 HR's and 110 RBI's on the way to a World Series loss to NY.

     In the 2003, Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera helped beat the Yankees for the franchise's second World Series win after an 87 game rookie campaign, during which Cabrera hit .268 with 21 doubles, 3 triples, 12 HR's and 62 RBI's. After winning the '03 series, Cabrera returned to hit .294 in 2004, with 31 doubles, 1 triple, 33 HR's and 112 RBI's in his first full season at just twenty-one years of age, and the next year saw Cabrera finish '05 at .323 with 43 doubles, 33 HR's and 116 RBI's overall.

      ...Ryan Zimmerman's first two full seasons...

2006- .287 AVG in 157 games, 47 doubles, 3 triples, 20 HR's,
           110 RBI's with 176 hits in 614 at bats.

2007- .266 AVG in 162 games, 43 doubles, 5 triples, 24 HR's,
           90 RBI's with 174 hits in 653 at bats.

      Does Zimmerman belong in the same category as the players listed above? Will Zimmerman's success be overshadowed by the fact that he's played two season in the same division as Chipper Jones, Miguel Cabrera and David Wright? Can Zimmerman be seriously mentioned in the same sentence as Brooks yet? (Ed. note- Are Miguel Cabrera's numbers for real? No allegations, just awe!)...

...THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!

*Third Base/Hot Corner Links*

mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Nats draft Zimmerman at No. 4" from 6/7/05 at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20050607&content_id=1079439&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Ryan Zimmerman's career stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/Z/ryan-zimmerman.shtml

Ryan Zimmerman's career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/z/zimmery01.shtml

Brooks Robinson's career stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/R/Brooks-Robinson.shtml

Brooks Robinson's career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/robinbr01.shtml

Mike Schmidt's career stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/S/mike-schmidt.shtml

Mike Schmidt's career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/schmimi01.shtml

Scott Rolen's career stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/R/scott-rolen.shtml

Scott Rolen's career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/rolensc01.shtml

Troy Glaus' career stats at the baseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/G/troy-glaus.shtml

Troy Glaus' career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/g/glaustr01.shtml

Chipper Jones' career stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/J/chipper-jones.shtml

Chipper Jones' career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/j/jonesch06.shtml

Miguel Cabrera's career stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/C/miguel-cabrera.shtml

Miguel Cabrera's career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/c/cabremi01.shtml