Ryan Zimmerman played more games than he has since 2013 last season, appearing in 115 games total, but his offensive production fell off dramatically.
Zimmerman finished his twelfth major league season with a .218/.272/.370 line, 18 doubles and 15 homers in 467 plate appearances over which he was worth -1.3 fWAR, down from 2.7, 1.6 and 0.6 fWAR in the previous three seasons.
Steamer projections on Fangraphs have Zimmerman approaching his career averages with 20 doubles, 16 home runs and a .260/.323/.448 line in 2017.
ZiPS projections have Zimmerman putting up a .238/.295/.401 line with 20 doubles and 13 home runs.
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo and skipper Dusty Baker both offered their opinions on why they think Zimmerman will produce in 2017 when they spoke to reporters this winter.
Rizzo was asked at the Winter Meetings what he saw from Zimmerman that convinced him the 32-year-old first baseman will bounce back next season.
“I like the bat speed. I like the bat path. He had a good approach at the plate,” Rizzo said.
“The peripherals say that he’s going to have a normal Ryan Zimmerman season next year.”
“Number one, he's healthy,” Baker said. “He started out Spring Training and I had to program him because of his foot. I had to kind of bring him along slowly to make sure he started the season healthy.
“I think the fact that he is starting the season healthy, the fact that this guy is a quality guy, team leader. He didn't like the year he had. I got four or five guys that didn't like the year they had, probably.
“You know, you look on the back of your bubble gum card, we all have years that we wish we could erase from our bubble gum card but it's there.
“I think he's going to have a big year, plus we need him to have that.”
Without a true, everyday option behind Zimmerman at this point (Clint Robinson, Matt Skole?), it’s especially important that the veteran third-turned-first baseman bounces back to something close to his career norms.
How confident are you that Zimmerman, who is under contract through 2019, at $14M for each of the next two seasons, and $18M in ‘19 with a club option for $20M in 2020 (or a $2M buyout), can bounce back and contribute offensively in 2017?