One of the great things about baseball is that it’s always full of surprises. We get reminded of this every single year, and while there have been a handful already in 2017, Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is a perfect example.
Once a cornerstone of the franchise and an annual offensive force earlier in his career, Zimmerman’s production had taken a nosedive over the years. It seemingly came to a head in 2016 when he slashed just .218/.272/.370 in 467 plate appearances, which led to a .277 wOBA, 67 wRC+ and a -1.3 fWAR.
That’s what we’d like to call suboptimal, guys.
It’s easy to think that the front office was concerned about his future production since they signed Adam Lind to a one-year deal on the eve of Spring Training, which many speculated would lead to a platoon at the corner infield spot.
But here we are, about six weeks into the regular season and no platoon has formed at first base. In fact, Zimmerman’s incredible April performance earned him Player of the Month honors.
The domination all over the league leaderboards hasn’t stopped, either. Entering action on Tuesday, check out where Zimmerman ranks in the following 16 categories.
This is what we’d call setting yourself up for success the rest of the way. Even once he comes back down to reality and goes through a bit of a slump, his numbers are still going to look ridiculous because he’s already sustained this pace for quite a while.
This isn’t the first time a hitter on the Nationals seemingly came out of nowhere to hit .400 for an extended period of time at the start of a year. It just happened with second baseman Daniel Murphy.
After his historic effort during the 2015 postseason, Murphy did more of the same with Washington in 2016. While he wasn’t over .400 the entire time, the last day in which he had at least a .400 average on the season came on May 15th, when he was slashing .400/.433/.629 following a loss to the Miami Marlins.
So, what’s in store for Zimmerman going forward? He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down just yet — he’s slashing .500/.511/1.048 over his last 45 plate appearances — and keeping up a ridiculous pace such as this is a little easier in one of baseball’s best offenses.
Either way, his early-season resurgence took many of us by surprise, which, again, is why baseball’s so cool.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball, contributes to The Sports Daily and is also an editor for numberFire. In the past, he has also written for FanDuel Insider and Bleacher Report. He’s a lover of all baseball, especially the Mets.