Throughout the first month of the 2017 MLB season, the Washington Nationals have been an offensive juggernaut. Opposing pitchers quiver in fear when they see that lineup card. But who’s the player wreaking the most havoc among other teams? Surely it’s Bryce Harper, who’s starting to heat up again and recapture his MVP form. No? Then it has to be Daniel Murphy, runner-up in the 2016 MVP race and noted consistent producer at the plate. Wow, really? Well, then it’s definitely Trea Turner, a known pest on the basepaths who’s recently caught afire atop the lineup. No again? Then who is the best hitter on the best lineup in baseball?
The answer, surprisingly, is Ryan Zimmerman. On a team with young stars like Harper, Turner, and Anthony Rendon, it’s the veteran Zimmerman leading the way, and he is absolutely on fire. Lately it takes a miracle to even get the man out. In a torrid month of April, Zimmerman posted a .420 average and hit 11 home runs with a whopping 29 RBI in 24 games. Not to mention he had a .458 OBP, he slugged .886, and had an OPS of 1.345. He led not only his team, but also all of MLB in average, home runs, RBI, slugging, OPS, and hits. The man is absolutely unstoppable.
On Monday, Zimmerman was named the National League Player of the Week, and rightly so. The last week of April capped off an already gargantuan month for Zim. In that week, he had 13 hits, 5 homers, and 13 RBI. Zim ended April with a bang, including a measly 3-for-5 day in the 23-5 drubbing of the Mets on April 30. Zimmerman is making a great case for being named National League Player of the Month, and really, who else could you give it to?
Zimmerman isn’t exactly known for getting his seasons off to hot starts. In his career, he has never hit over .300 during a full month of April. In his non-shortened Aprils, his highs before this season included a .298 average, 5 home runs, and 17 RBI, all of which except the RBI came in 2009, his All-Star season. Zimmerman has absolutely demolished all of his April highs, and is quickly putting together the best start of his career.
So what’s different? There are two things that pop out. Firstly, Zimmerman has really improved his launch angle. We all know Zim hits the ball hard, but this year instead of hitting balls on the ground, he’s launching bombs. Secondly, and more importantly, Zimmerman is healthy again. It really is as simple as that. Zimmerman has battled a number of injuries over the past few years that have kept him from reaching the height of his offensive production. It seems pretty clear that nothing is standing in his way now.
Will Zimmerman’s white-hot start be sustainable? History and logic say no, but wouldn’t it be nice for Zimmerman to hit .420 all year and crush 60 homers and 150 RBI? We can only wish. Zimmerman will likely level out, but we’re still facing possibly the best year of Zimmerman’s career. So for now, let’s just marvel in the rebirth of Ryan Zimmerman.Tags: Nationals, Nats, Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals