While his defense slipped a little from the award-worthy third base the Washington Nationals' first 1st Round pick Ryan Zimmerman played in 2009 on the way to claiming his first Gold Glove, costing him his second GG in a row, the Nats' Face of the Franchise picked up the offense in 2010, posting a career-best .307 batting average and .388 OBP with 32 doubles, 25 HR's and 85 RBI's, earning the 26-year-old Nats' third baseman his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award in recognition of his efforts at the plate.
Zimmerman told reporters in a conference call tonight that missing some time this year cost him in terms of HR's, RBI's and runs scored, but according to the 6-year MLB vet, "If you look past those numbers [at other stats] I think are more important, on base and slugging, and my average were high, [but] because I missed a few more games than I did last year, obviously those first numbers are going to be down, but this year the numbers as far as on base and me learning how to become a better hitter and get on base more, they all went up significantly."
Zimmerman hit over .300 for the first time in his career in 2010, and though he said he doesn't, "...usually set number goals," the third hole in the Nats' order said, "...as the season gets closer to the end and you realize you have a shot [at hitting over .300] it's something that I obviously wanted to do."
"It is part of my goal and part of my progression to become an average-hitter as well as a power hitter," Zimmerman said. "I think when you look at guys who hit .300 and have the ability to hit 30 HR's and drive in 100 guys in a season, there's only handful of [them] out there, so if you can get up to doing that consistently every year you become one of the elite players in the league and I think that's my goal as well as pretty much everyone's goal who plays this game, so for me to take that step forward this year was very important for me."
The usually tight-lipped Nat has been especially vocal this season about how important having Adam Dunn in the Nationals' order is to him and the team in general. In an interview last night during the event held to unveil the Nats' new jerseys, Zimmerman told reporters, as recorded in MASNSports.com's Pete Kerzel's article entitled, "Zimmerman: Nationals can't afford not to re-sign Dunn", that Washington had, "...to get Dunn, I think," :
"... just the presence that he has in this lineup, the presence he has in this clubhouse, the consistency that you get out of him - if you take him out of the middle of the lineup, it's going to be hard to replace him. It's going to do a lot (of harm) to our team..."
Zimmerman had the third-highest HR total amongst third baseman in the National League, he tied for third in RBI's, tied for the lead in AVG and posted the highest OBP and SLG in the NL. How much of that can be attributed to hitting back-to-back with Dunn in the order?
Zimmerman: "It absolutely helps [to have Dunn hitting behind him]. I think as much as everyone says people are going to pitch you how they're going to pitch you, it doesn't change [how they pitch me] with Adam behind me, but it changes when and when they don't pitch to me, I think. If there's runners on second or with runners in scoring position, if you walk me or pitch around me, then obviously you have Adam to deal with and earlier in the year before Josh [Willingham] got hurt, if you pitched around [Dunn] then you had Willingham to deal with, so as much as this award is mine, having those guys behind me and having the guys in front of me that got on for me to drive in and all that, we had a pretty good lineup. I think having Adam come back obviously needs to be a big priority for our team for everyone, but I think obviously it helps me out as well."
The 4th overall pick in the '05 Draft's season ended on September 22nd when a rib injury cost him the last two weeks and 10 games on the 2010 schedule. The injury is completely healed now Zimmerman said, "...in time to play golf instead of baseball unfortunately. So, everything's good with that, but it's frustrating when you have to miss the last couple weeks of a season. I think you kind of go through the grind all year with those guys, you go through ups and downs, and everyone wants to finish the season strong and finish it on a good note and to have to sit out and kind of watch those guys battle the last two weeks was hard for me. But it was the right decision, we stopped it before it got too serious and I was fine literally probably three, three and a half weeks after the season."
Some More Stats From The Nats on Zim's Sliver Slugger season:
"Zimmerman ranked among NL leaders in batting average against left-handed hitters (seventh, .331), game-winning RBI (tied seventh, 14), OBP (eighth), OPS (eighth, .899), batting average (eighth), runs created/27 (ninth, 6.75), batting average with runners on base (ninth, .335), slugging percentage (10th, .511), batting average at home (10th, .317) and go-ahead RBI (tied 10th, 26)."
Zimmerman’s second Silver Slugger award is the third by a National in the franchise's 6-year history in the nation's capital. Former Nats' left fielder Alfonso Soriano took home a Silver Slugger in 2006, his one season in D.C.