Ryan Zimmerman got off to an unexpectedly strong start to his 13th major league campaign. In the first month-plus, the 32-year-old first baseman put up a gaudy 410/.449/.855 line, 13 doubles and 13 home rums in 127 plate appearances. His production dropped in the weeks that followed, however, which Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker said was inevitable.
“Nobody could sustain that pace that he was on,” Baker told reporters in mid-July, “... but he spoiled us with it and he’s -- I had a discussion with him today that he’s had a tendency to be a streaky hitter because he has a lot of moveable parts, and when they’re on, they’re on, and when they’re off, they’re — like the more moveable parts you have, you’re searching for which one is not working, but usually it’s one that sets everything else in to sync.”
Still, while his overall numbers declined over that stretch, Zimmerman managed to put up a .276/.327/.432 line, nine doubles and seven home runs between May 10-July 17th, a stretch of 51 games and 211 PAs which culminated with his 235th career home run, which gave him the all-time lead in franchise history (Montreal/D.C.).
There was a particularly rough stretch between mid-June and mid-July included in that stretch that saw Zimmerman put up a .209/.271/.244 line over 23 games and 96 PAs.
“I’m not worried about Ryan,” Baker said after Zim started to pick it up again, “and I told him that he shouldn’t worry either cause I could see him kind of stressing out a little bit after each at bat and just like, ‘Hey, man, when a good hitter is not hitting, the law of averages are on his side.’
“I believe in those law of averages if you have the ability and he certainly has the ability.”
Baker talked about Zimmerman’s production picking up after the Nats’ first baseman doubled to drive in two runs that put the Nationals up on Milwaukee in the second game of the series in Nats Park this past Wednesday night, telling reporters it was a big hit in the game and for Zimmerman in general.
“Especially when you come through in the clutch like that,” he said, “... you get a big knock like that, I mean, Zim’s come through many, many times, and he thrives on that pressure, but that was big — to see him go to right like that especially, so I’m just glad that we won the game.”
With two home runs in Thursday’s blowout win over the Brewers, Zimmerman was up to 237 career home runs, tied with Washington Senators’ slugger Frank Howard as the most prolific home run hitter in D.C. baseball history, a record that fans in the nation’s capital embrace more than the franchise mark.
[ed. note - “Nats Stats: Howard hit his 237 HRs in 4,412 PAs as a Senator, Zimmerman reached 237 in his 6,408th PA in a Nationals uniform.”]
Baker talked after the Nationals’ 15-2 win about Zimmerman picking up steam and what it would mean for the team to really get him locked in again.
“That was a big double to right last night which got him going,” Baker said, “and that keeps you inside, head down, you have to do everything perfectly to hit that ball the way he did last night, and so perhaps Zim is on his way again. It would be a big plus to us.”