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ZIMMERMAN LAYING SOLID FOUNDATION

[April 27th] -- If, on opening day, your fairy God-mother had said to you, "With a wave of my magic wand, I can guarantee you that your rookie third-baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, would have these stats for 2006: .241 batting average, 143 hits, 30 doubles, a triple, 16 homers, 105 rbi's, 82 walks and 180 strikeouts" would you have said, "Go ahead, girl, wave that wand?" Probably.

That's a pretty good rookie season for a 21 year old kid who was just a year removed from college. Sure, the 180 k's are very high, but he's been learning with each and every one of them. His batting average would be low, but the 105 rbi's more than make up for that.

Twenty-one games into the 2006 season, that's exactly the pace Zimmerman is on. My guess is that he'll end up with a higher average, maybe .250 or .260, and a few less rbi's, perhaps 80 or so, but the rest of the numbers look about right.

Sure, he looks over-matched at times, but at other times he hits Billy Wagner fast balls for home runs. He's a work in progress. His defense, which was horrid this spring (seven errors), is once again his signature talent. He's already had a #3 and a #5 ESPN Web-Gem. That catch he made over-his-shoulder a few games ago is perhaps the finest play by a 3rd baseman going out that I've ever seen.

And he's twenty-one.

The kid is definantly as advertised: stud with the glove, solid with the bat. What does the future hold for Ryan Zimmerman? I think he's going to put up Chipper Jones type numbers for years to come, but with a glove more like that of Ken McMullen (hey youngins, Kenny McMullen was the second best defensive 3rd baseman in the A.L. during his years with the Senators. You know who the first was ..).

For all his faults, at least Jim Bowden didn't screw up the '05 draft.


Comments:
Last season after he was called up from he minors, Zimmerman swung at good pitches and laid off the bad ones. He hit .397. This season, it is the mirror opposite, he takes two pitches down the center of the plate, then he strikes out on a pitch that is down and outside, an obvious ball. He is a sucker for the low outside pitch and that word has spread quickly throughout the league.
 
You're right Phil, but remember that Andruw Jones was a sucker for that same outside pitch -- it took him a couple of years to figure it out, but I'd say he's done well since, and my guess is that Zim will do the same.
Farid
 
On the recommendation of his father, and the help of the Braves batting coach, Jones widened his stance a couple of years ago and it paid big dividends. When I was in Viera for spring training, I watched Mitchell Page working with Zimmerman for an hour after a game, getting him to hit the ball to right field. He has changed Zimmerman's stance and I fear he has screwed him up. Zimmerman had a nice swing last year and now he sees all bound up in that crouched stance.
 
I didn't catch the change in his stance from last year --- thank's Phil.
 
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