There was general rejoicing among Washington Nationals fans when the team signed Ryan Zimmerman to a massive contract extension during the offseason. However, the third baseman has given Nats fans very little reason to rejoice since.
Here are Zimmerman's numbers through the weekend: 50 games, 223 plate appearances, 3 home runs, 22 RBI, .300 on-base percentage, .323 slugging percentage, .624 OPS, an OPS+ of 71. All very ugly reading.
Over at District Sports Page, David Nichols had some thoughts about Zimmerman's struggles. We linked to the piece in our Starting Lineup, but we'd be remiss not to excerpt some of the crucial portions of it.
What's glaring is the lack of power: his extra-base hit rate is down significantly. In fact, his XBH rate has dropped every year since his career year of 2009 (10.5% in '09, 9.5% in '10, 8.0% in '11, 5.8% this season) to coincide with the increase in ground balls. To me, that's cause for serious alarm. Want more to be concerned about? Zimmerman's HR/fly ball rate has dropped every corresponding season as well, from a high of 12.5% in '09 (when he hit 33 home runs) to just 4.5% this season. That's slap-hitting middle infielder stuff right there.
Following Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Yankees, Dave took the field with Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com and Patrick Reddington, SB Nation DC's Nats editor and blogrunner for Federal Baseball. What they had to say is below.