Pudgy Third Base Review: Ryan Zimmerman

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2009

Third Base is unbelievably deep this year, like deep-deep;  like a “Dancer” from Thailand who illegally comes to Toronto to work at Zanzibar, deep.

I really don’t think I’ve ever started a third basemen at a UTIL or CI spot but things may change this year.  After Wright, Longoria, Rodriguez, Youkilis, Ramirez and Jones there’s a beautifully deep mess of third basemen with 30-HR potential.

Ryan Zimmerman is one of those guys. Zimmerman’s coming off the board as the 107th pick, which is comparable to Carlos Delgado and his 124th overall pick as a first basemen.

Zimmerman experienced a nagging left-shoulder injury that cost him about 60 games, and postponed which should have been his breakout year.  It’s now 2009, and Ryan Zimmerman is still a beast.

Looking at Zimmerman’s solid power numbers, it’s pretty much a given that he’ll eventually develop 30-HR power. Zimmerman’s career best has been 24 HR, but the amount of doubles he consistently hits really sheds light on his power.

While Zimmerman’s swing is textbook, his batting average hasn’t reflected it.  Zimmerman appears to be a lock for .285, but he should have .300 potential somewhere in there. Walking half as much as you strike-out isn’t terrible, but with Zimmerman’s skill set, you should expect an improvement.  CHONE is the only projection model that predicts a noticeable increase in BB:K.

Zimmerman is consistently among the league leaders in doubles as he has terrific gap power: when he hits the ball, he hits it hard. After returning from the disabled list last year, Zimmerman went for .306 AVG, .370 OBP, and .455 Slugging percentage.

Now almost a full-year removed from his shoulder injury, the question on your mind should be: When’s Zimmerman going to turn his doubles power into home-run power?

The answer is probably this year.  If he doesn’t manage to get to that magical 30-HR mark, he’ll at least end up in the high-20’s.

The Washington Nationals line-up is also improved with the addition of Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn, and maturation of Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes. This may only be worth a couple runs and a few rbi when viewed against the backdrop of Zimmerman’s 2007 season, but it starts to put him amongst the elite.

Zimmerman should come ridiculously close to notching 200 combined R and RBI and there’s no reason to think he’ll bat anywhere but third, even with a miraculously healthy Nick Johnson. The top of the Nats line-up isn’t amazingly efficient at getting on base, but they’ll do.

Expecting a line of 95R/27HR/95RBI/.290 AVG/3SB seems about right, but with a third-base class this deep, I’m not sure where to rank Zimmerman. These numbers look fairly comparable to Evan Longoria’s projected numbers, other than Bill James’ 37-HR projection for Longoria. But Considering how much everyone is overrating Longoria, Zimmerman’s a steal at 106th overall.  At the same time, Edwin Encarnacion, Alex Gordon, Jorge Cantu or the extremely unlucky Mark Reynolds could also put up at least similar numbers and be gotten almost 100 picks later.

Zimmerman’s primed for a break-out year, but at the same time I’d just wait until later in the draft and take whichever third basemen is left.