Ryan Zimmerman Leading by Example for Nationals
When you think of the Washington Nationals, it's hard not to associate first baseman Ryan Zimmerman with them. The 36-year-old has been with the franchise since 2005 and has always been the definition of professional. That's why he won't complain about his diminished playing time in the 2021 MLB season.
Zimmerman missed the previous season after he opted out of it because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he returned to the Nationals on a one-year, $1 million contract for the current campaign to split time at first with Josh Bell. Even though he knows people want to see him playing more, Zimmerman is leading by example by saying that he knows what his role is and that the starting first baseman job belongs to Bell.
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Zimmerman told Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports that he understands that people see his stats and think that he should get more playing time. However, he also understands that he's 36 years old and that the starting job should go to Bell, who's only 28 and making $5.35 million more than Zimmerman this season. Teams just don't pay that kind of money for a backup.
"You saw at the beginning of the year when Josh [Bell] had to deal with the COVID stuff, I’m capable of doing it, for periods of time. I just can’t play 135-140 games anymore, and I’m at peace with that. I know that’s what I’m here to do, and I’ve taken it as a challenge to be the best I can in this new role that I’ve adopted."- Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 1B
Nevertheless, it's not difficult to see why Nationals fans want to see more of Zimmerman. The two-time Silver Slugger has recorded 4 doubles, 5 home runs and 14 RBI on 25 hits in 83 plate appearances to kick off the 2021 season. He's also accomplishing this on a .316 batting average, which would be his highest since he was a rookie if he can maintain it for the rest of the campaign. Meanwhile, Bell has 5 homers and 18 RBI while slashing .203/.264/.381.
Judging by Bell's numbers, it's easy to see why the Washington fanbase would like to see Zimmerman start more games. At the same time, it's tough to know whether he could maintain his production across a full season. Besides, it would look awful on him to come out and tell the media that he thinks Bell should get less playing time. That just isn't who he is.
The Nationals are currently tied for the 20th-best odds to win the World Series at +6000, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. If Washington wants to improve its odds, Zimmerman will need to continue leading by example to get his team back into the race.
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