Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/16/14
Last year was a tale of two seasons for Ryan Zimmerman as he struggled early in the season with a shoulder injury. On June 23, he decided to receive a cortizone shot and it completely revitalized his game offensively. Sidebar: I understand that PEDs are illegal in baseball and modern science/medicines are not, but players in the 60′s and 70′s didn’t have the advantages today’s players have to stay on the field. Just put the players we know were great in the Hall of Fame and end the debate. Anyways, that’s a different discussion for another day.From the season opener through June 23, Zimmerman batted .214 with three homers and 22 RBI in 242 PA, but from June 24 forward he went on a tear batting .325 with 22 homers and 73 RBI in 399 PA. That right there is hard evidence that his shoulder was the direct cause of his struggles at the plate. He had offseason shoulder surgery that should correct the problem (that’s what surgeries are for, right?) and the reports are that he will be 100% by the season’s open.Of course, injuries are a part of Zimmerman’s game as he’s missed an average of 32 games over his last six seasons so make sure you plan ahead for one trip to the DL. When he’s on the field, he is solid across the board (except steals) and is one of the more consistent third basemen in the game.At a GlanceStrengths: RBINeutral: R, HR, BB, K, BA, OBP, SLG, OPSWeaknesses: SBPlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Evan Longoria (TB)Likely scenario: Aramis Ramirez (MIL), Pablo Sandoval (SF), Chase Headley (SD) w/o the stealsWorst-case scenario: David Freese (STL)Ryan Zimmerman 2013 Fantasy ProjectionUnlike Aramis Ramirez (85.1), Zimmerman is actually being drafted 48.6 overall so there’s not as much room for error when drafting him. The four rounds difference between the two hitters is way more than it should be since we have them just one spot apart, but Zimmerman is 28 years old and entering his prime. That said, I think we’ve seen his ceiling and that’s a .300 hitter with 90 R/RBI and 30 homers. My opinion is that his homer production is more in the 25-range as his career fly ball rate is only 37.1%, but there’s a chance he increases that rate to hit for more power in the future.There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Nationals this year and it’s mostly because of their stellar pitching rotation and bullpen. However, they have assembled a very solid lineup with Denard Span and Bryce Harper at the top and Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth in the four and five holes.For those in OBP leagues, Zimmerman has decreased his walk rate for two straight years, but his 2012 rate of 8.9% was still around the league average.I’ve always called Zimmerman “Evan Longoria lite,” and given Longoria’s recent issues of staying on the field that comparison is only getting better. You don’t leave a lot of room for error by picking him in the 5th round, but he has the ability to produce as a 2nd/3rd round pick so he’s worth the gamble, especially at a position that falls off, in terms of talent, quickly.
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