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Player Profile #64: Ryan Zimmerman | 3B | WAS

There may be no baseball player that gets a worse rap when it comes to injuries than Ryan Zimmerman. Over his eight-year career, he’s averaged 140 games per season, which means he’s usually good for one DL stint per year.

Last year, Zimmerman put up a typical season where he played 147 games with a .275 BA, 84 R, 26 HR, 79 RBI, and 6 SB. He is consistently above-average in four of the five categories and he can contribute a handful of steals each season. That being said, there has been a downward trend with his batting average that is worth pointing out.

From 2009-2011, Zimmerman was putting up a .290+ BA, but that dropped to .282 in 2012 and then .275 last year. I believe that this is directly correlated to his increased propensity for swings and misses, which the table below shows.

Year BA K% O-Swing% Swing% Contact% SwStr%
2010 .307 16.3 25.9 40.3 81.1 7.2
2011 .289 16.6 28.4 39.5 82.9 6.5
2012 .282 18.1 30.5 42.1 78.9 8.5
2013 .275 21.0 31.1 41.9 78.2 8.8

It’s clear that as long as he continues to increase the strikeouts, his batting average won’t climb back up to the .290-.300 range. He’s swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone and making less overall contact. This all adds up to his K rate going from 16.3% to 21.0%.

The lower BA affects his value in that category (duh), but it can also have a negative affect on his counting stats (e.g., R and RBI). Consider this extremely obscure (i.e., just made up) stat: Last year, Zimmerman’s RBI/PA (.125) was 8.2% lower than his career average (.136), but his RBI/BIP (.180; that’s Ball In Play, by the way) was only 3.9% lower than his career average (.188).

That completely abstract stat tells us that while Zimmerman definitely saw a significant decrease in RBI production on a per PA basis, the decrease was attributed more to his growing inability to put the ball in play than anything else (he still spent the majority of his time batting third and fourth in the lineup).

Unfortunately for those who’ve enjoyed Zimmerman’s past 90 RBI seasons, those are probably a thing of the past. The team seems pleased with a Bryce HarperJayson WerthAdam LaRoche combination batting three-four-five, and that puts Zimmerman second in the lineup behind Denard Span. Always a good OBP guy regardless of his BA (he’s a career .286 hitter with a .352 OBP), that should mean plenty of run scoring opportunities for the Nationals third baseman, but probably not a ton of RBI chances going forward.

At A Glance

  • Strengths: R, HR, SLG, OPS
  • Neutral: RBI, BA, OBP, BB, K
  • Weaknesses: SB, 2B, 3B

Players With Similar Fantasy Value

2014 Fantasy Baseball Projection

2014 Projection: 637 PA, 91 R, 25 HR, 74 RBI, 6 SB, .280 BA

Overall Rank: 64 | 3B Rank: 7

When I think of Zimmerman, I think of a .280/25/85 season. He’s usually right around those benchmarks, give or take a little.

When I think of Zimmerman, I think of a .280/25/85 season. He’s usually right around those benchmarks, give or take a little. Because he’ll primarily be batting second (for the first time in his career) I’ll adjust the RBI down and move the R up, but the rest is business as usual.

He’s probably good for one DL stint, but there are generally enough players with third base eligibility that this isn’t a huge issue. It’s not like you need to draw from an impossibly shallow pool of free agent shortstops to fill the temporary gap. Because he seems to land in the same spot in the rankings every year, he makes for a boring fall-back player in drafts. There are a few players we have ranked after Zimmerman that I wouldn’t mind starting on my fantasy team (Kyle Seager, Pedro Alvarez, Matt Carpenter), but if you’re in a deeper league and the pool of required players extends much beyond that, I’d make a play to avoid missing out on a player in Zimmerman’s tier.

2015 & Beyond

Zimmerman will be 30 years old this September and had some well publicized throwing issues last year. With Adam LaRoche potentially out the door in Washington after the 2014 season, there’s talk that Zimmerman could be a good in-house replacement at first base. That would probably mean the loss of his third base eligibility by 2016, and at 31 years old and just first base eligibility that year, Zimmerman’s value would take a fairly sizable hit.¬†Going forward, it’s probably best to rely on his services through 2015 but to be prepared to make a switch for the following seasons.


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