While a lot of things went very right for the Nationals last year, Ryan Zimmerman regaining his swagger was not one of them. He once again couldn't stay off the DL, and even though his 115 games played were his highest total since 2013, he didn't do much with those extra plate appearances, posting a career-low .642 OPS and career-high 22.3 percent strikeout rate. Now 32 years old and with a bad shoulder that limits him to first base, there's little reason for optimism in Zimmerman's future. He didn't even put together his usual big finish to the season, hitting just .222/.259/.333 in 81 at-bats through September and October, although he did show some life in the playoffs. Heading into the final year of his contract, the one-time face of the franchise may find himself slowly pushed to the bench in 2017, as the 21 games Daniel Murphy played at first base could be a sign that the front office no longer views Zimmerman as even a short-term option at the position.
Zimmerman went 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a stolen base in Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Astros. The 32-year-old seemed to flip a switch about 10 days ago, and Zimmerman is now 12-for his last-23 (.522) this spring with a home run, three doubles and a 5:3 BB:K. If he can carry that momentum at the plate forward into the regular season the veteran could prove to be a draft-day steal, but he remains purely an endgame dart given his declining production over the last couple of years.
Zimmerman went 3-for-3 with a walk, a double, his first spring home run, three runs scored and two RBI in Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins. He's caught fire after a rough 0-for-17 start, picking up hits in seven of his last 10 spring at-bats to boost his slash line to .259/.375/.444. There's still a lot of uncertainty around Zimmerman's ability to contribute this year, as he's seen his OPS drop for four straight seasons, but a strong finish to the spring would at least give the veteran first baseman some confidence heading into April.
Zimmerman went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Astros. After a woeful 0-for-17 start to the spring, Zimmerman finally got a couple of hits to drop in. There's been little indication so far that his efforts to add extra loft to his swing have helped, but the Nats are still committed to beginning the season with him as their starting first baseman. If he hits the way he did in 2016, though, that commitment will be put to the test as the summer wears on.
Zimmerman has yet to collect a hit in 11 Grapefruit League at-bats but isn't too concerned with the slow start, The Washington Post reports. "It's just getting used to just going through your routine every day without feeling like crap, like you got run over," said Zimmerman prior to Thursday's game against the Marlins, in which he went 0 for 1 with a walk. "So that's kind of where I'm at right now. Going 0 for 10, it doesn't matter. It's not fun on March 9 or July 9, but I think the most important thing this early in the spring is just to make sure you set a good base. Right now I feel good. That's all you can really ask for." He could be the poster boy for how unimportant spring training stats really are after hitting .333 with four home runs in 14 games last March, only to post a .642 OPS in 115 games during the 2016 regular season. Zimmerman is also working on adding some loft to his swing, so poor results so far aren't surprising all things considered, but it would be reassuring -- both for the Nats, and for fantasy owners thinking about adding him to their roster -- if the 32-year-old was able to string some hits together over the next few weeks.
Zimmerman saw his first game action of the spring Friday, going 0-for-2 in a split-squad game against the Cardinals. The veteran has been working on his swing during camp to try and add some loft, and one of Zimmerman's outs was a liner to left fielder Randal Grichuk. There's very little expectation from a fantasy perspective on Zimmerman this season coming off a miserable .218/.272/.370 line in 2016, but the Nats will give him a long leash to try and re-establish himself as a useful hitter.