RYAN ZIMMERMAN: A 'STUD' AT 21
[August 7th] -- The season is far enough along now to begin making accurate comparisons between the NL East's reigning super-star third baseman, Chipper Jones, and the probable National League Rookie-Of-The-Year, Ryan Zimmerman.
And it's a stunning comparison at that.
Jones' rookie year was in 1995, when he was 23 years old. Take a look at his offensive production. Certainly, he had a solid rookie season and has gone on to have a probable hall-of-fame career, but his numbers pale in comparison with the Nationals' Zimmerman (his numbers have been extrapolated out to a full year). The home run totals are equal, and Jones has two more triples, but Zimmerman leads in all other categories, and he's done this at only 21, two years younger than Jones was. When Zimmerman is 23, he will be embarking on his third major league season, and will probably produce somewhere in the .300-30-120 range.
Based on offensive production alone, you'd have to give the nod to Zimmerman. But let's not stop there; let's take a look at their defensive capabilities. Sorry Chipper. Have to do it. Jones committed 25 errors while Ryan is on pace to make just 13 miscues. Jones made 81 putouts, Zimmerman 147. Jones had 254 assists while Zimmerman is on pace for 259. While Chipper's offense continued to improve throughout his career, his defense has been speculative at best, even to the point that Braves' manager Bobby Cox moved him to the outfield for two seasons so that Vinny Castilla could provide some solid defense at the "hot corner." Zimmerman, on the other hand, is a gold-glove caliber third baseman now.
If Zimmerman continues to improve, continues to get better each and every game, I believe that the Nationals' star will "run circles" around the legend of Chipper Jones. Don't get me wrong' Jones as "studly" a major leaguer as there is. Ryan Zimmerman is just better.
Now, I realize that there is another good third baseman in New York, David Wright of the Mets, a good friend of Zimmerman's. In his first full season (2005), the 22 year old hit 306-27-102, very good numbers. He also, however, committed 24 errors and had a fielding percent a full 20 points lower than Ryan's. No, Wright is more like Chipper Jones than like Ryan Zimmerman.
And he has from now to, oh, lets say, 2025 to prove it. Ryan Zimmerman, member, Hall Of Fame class of 2030.
Sounds weird, doesn't it?
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