Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

WaPo (Chris Needham): When Ryan Zimmerman was baseball’s best third baseman

Original Nats blogger (and BBTF’s own) Chris Needham guests at the Washington Post with a requiem for Ryan Zimmerman’s defensive glory days:

Once, Ryan Zimmerman was among the very best to ever play third. Tuesday night, he’s a left fielder, a position so unimportant defensively, the Nats buried oafs such as Adam Dunn, Wily Mo Pena and Michael Morse out there. [...]

From about 2006 through 2009, there was not a better defensive third baseman in the league. (Not even you, Scott Rolen.) And there were flashes of utter insanity with the glove — weeks where he made play after play as perfectly as any third baseman humanly could. That’s the player we should remember. Not the sore-armed, oft-injured guy that made us all pucker up a bit when a speedy runner hit a soft grounder in his direction.

Maybe it’s lost a bit because so few people actually watched the games. The team was pretty bad then, and MASN, if available at all, was pretty hard to find. I think a lot of people understand how good he was by reputation, not by having actually seeing him. I’m a little bit cynical (read: a lot cynical) and not all that prone to nostalgia, but I saw him. I know the magic he was capable of. One quick example: In 2007, he turned (as in turned, not started) seven double plays. Stop and think about that for a second.

At his best, Zimmerman did it all. He had amazing range, routinely stabbing balls down the line or digging deep into the hole at short. He had quick-as-a-flash reflexes, always starting his glove down low, then bring it up high to snare a ball that would have nailed him in the shins or taken a funny bounce up high. Remember his quick release on those swinging bunts? There was a time you looked forward to his throws! When he was feeling confident, you could see it.

He, more than any other player, loved throwing to second to get the lead runner. Other third basemen would make a routine throw to first for a force play. Not Zimmerman. He chucked it hard, and fast, often pirouetting nearly ninety degrees to get into position for the throw to second. And more than a few times, that quick thinking and supreme confidence in his abilities created a double play out of thin air. He was utterly magical.

But you probably noticed that last paragraph was all in the past tense. That Ryan Zimmerman is gone now.

Esoteric Posted: June 04, 2014 at 08:35 PM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: washington nationals

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Greg K Posted: June 04, 2014 at 11:37 PM (#4719393)
I remember a few years ago when comparing Zimmerman to David Wright thinking, "I'd maybe take Wright now, but Zimmerman is younger and more likely to stick at third, no brainer who to take for the future".

Baseball can be a bummer sometimes.

Also, does anyone ever call him Dave Wright? Don't think I've ever heard that.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: June 05, 2014 at 05:22 AM (#4719449)
From about 2006 through 2009, there was not a better defensive third baseman in the league. (Not even you, Scott Rolen.) And there were flashes of utter insanity with the glove — weeks where he made play after play as perfectly as any third baseman humanly could. That’s the player we should remember. Not the sore-armed, oft-injured guy that made us all pucker up a bit when a speedy runner hit a soft grounder in his direction.


Bb-ref respectfully disagrees, 54 rfield vs 48 for the two(in about 80 fewer games for Rolen)

Zimmerman always had a bit of a wild arm, that hurt his overall defensive value, despite the terrific hands.
   3. Bourbon Samurai in America Posted: June 05, 2014 at 08:48 AM (#4719472)
Was at the game last night- there was one play where he looked pretty lost on a fly to left. better he do it now while the bats seem to be working.
   4. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: June 05, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4719577)
Outstanding writeup Chris. And congrats on making the Post.

Yep, for a couple of years, Zimmerman was absolutely one of the best players in baseball. What happened to his shoulder is just tragic.
   5. shoewizard Posted: June 05, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4719606)
Not as tragic as what happened to Brandon Webb's shoulder. At lease Zimmerman can still hit.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Jim Wisinski
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogTeixeira Homers From Both Sides as Yanks Rout White Sox 13-6 - The New York Times
(40 - 6:27pm, Aug 02)
Last: Morty Causa

NewsblogWith baseball's 2nd-worst record, a lost season for Marlins
(19 - 6:24pm, Aug 02)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogDiamondbacks GM Dave Stewart: Padres asked for Paul Goldschmidt in trade
(25 - 6:23pm, Aug 02)
Last: Squash

NewsblogREMEMBER WHEN METS WERE A JOKE? | FOX Sports
(19 - 6:22pm, Aug 02)
Last: djordan

NewsblogOTP - July 2015: Winning the Political Game: Politics is More Like Baseball Than Football
(6346 - 6:22pm, Aug 02)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogOMNICHATTER FOR AUGUST 1, 2015
(169 - 6:02pm, Aug 02)
Last: Random Transaction Generator

NewsblogNick Cafardo | Sunday Baseball Notes: Assessing the go-getters and do-nothings of the trade deadline - Sports - The Boston Globe
(2 - 6:00pm, Aug 02)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogBay Area Sports Guy – Madison Bumgarner isn’t racist, he’s a control freak
(34 - 5:45pm, Aug 02)
Last: 6 - 4 - 3

NewsblogInjury to Burnett forced the Pirates' hand to add pitcher | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(6 - 5:36pm, Aug 02)
Last: Rennie's Tenet

NewsblogWith money and cutting-edge brilliance, Dodgers playing a game others can’t - Yahoo Sports
(102 - 5:32pm, Aug 02)
Last: Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com

NewsblogOT: Soccer June 2015
(1456 - 4:20pm, Aug 02)
Last: Swedish Chef

NewsblogRed Sox fan struggles with poncho, announcers can’t keep it together - Sports - The Boston Globe
(1 - 4:19pm, Aug 02)
Last: The Piehole of David Wells

NewsblogHow August Trades Work - MLB Trade Rumors
(2 - 2:27pm, Aug 02)
Last: boteman asks Where's My Ring?

NewsblogMLB trade deadline losers | FOX Sports
(8 - 1:15pm, Aug 02)
Last: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad)

NewsblogLarry Lucchino to step down as Red Sox chief executive at end of season - Sports - The Boston Globe
(12 - 1:03pm, Aug 02)
Last: Gonfalon Bubble

Page rendered in 0.1802 seconds
48 querie(s) executed