Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez with about two posts per week until Spring Training. Enjoy.
The 2012 season was really a tale of two seasons for Washington Nationals franchise third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. In the early part of the season, Zimmerman struggled mightily at the plate, and until the infamous cortisone shot on June 24, he put up a paltry .218/.285/.305 slash line. Not exactly what you hoped to see from baseball's newest $100 million man. Everything changed when our old friend cortisone came to party.
From that day forward, Zimmerman put out a .321/.383/.584 slash line, good for an incredible .984 OPS. Zimmerman provided 4.5 WAR, even with his bad start, which was good for the fourth best NL WAR among third basemen. The four cortisone shots were the only way that Zimmerman was able to produce last season, and he underwent arthroscopic surgery at the end of October to have the shoulder fixed. He's expected to resume baseball activities before the end of the calendar year.
One part of Zimmerman's game that seemed to regress a bit was his defense, most notably his throwing motion. Ever since he came back from an abdominal injury, Zimmerman started using an awkward overhand throwing motion that's resulted in some ridiculously terrible throwing errors on routine plays. Meanwhile, when he charges a ball and has to make a miraculous side/submarining throw, it tends to be on target. Zimmerman's astronomical UZRs from 2009 and 2010 have moved in to negative territory in 2011 and 2012. It's something that he has to fix. No matter how good his glove is, and it's great, he has to be able to make the routine throws.
Next year: I expect Zimmerman to have a solid, Zimmerman-esque 2013 season. The cast of characters around him and his 98-win team will be largely unchanged, and since his first full season in 2006, it's always been clear what you're going to get from the Nats franchise player. He's going to have a great glove and a solid bat that goes through extremely hot and extremely cold spells. I also think we'll see a revamped throwing motion on those routine plays. Davey, a pretty good infielder in his time, won't let those throws continue.
Next up: #15 Brett Carroll