Modern baseball players are far more transient than they were during our grandparent’s generation. Players move around more than ever, chasing life-altering contracts and money in an open market that has been lucrative for most players, and especially those at the top.
Ryan Zimmerman is one of those increasingly rare players who played his entire career with one franchise and in one city. Zimmerman was the first-ever drafted National, as Washinton picked him with the fourth overall pick following their move from Montreal. His career is intrinsically linked with the franchise to-date, as Zimmerman has been on the roster since the team’s relocation.
Debuting in 2005, only Yadier Molina has posted more consecutive years with one team (the Cardinals’ backstop made his debut in 2004). In 2005, Adam Wainwright also made his St. Louis debut, in 2007 it was Joey Votto, and in 2008 Clayton Kershaw came on the scene (as did Brett Gardner).
As Zimmerman’s success went, so did the Nationals’. In his 16 seasons in a Nats uni (we’re not counting his opt-out 2020), Zimmerman generated the team’s most offensive bWAR three times, he garnered MVP votes four times, and made two All Star games.
His 40.1 bWAR is nearly tied with Max Scherzer’s 40.8 for the most-ever in Nationals’ franchise history, though quite a bit behind Expos’ Hall of Famers Gary Carter (55.8), Tim Raines (49.1), and Andre Dawson (48.4).
In 16 seasons, Zimmerman ended his career with a .277/.341/.475 slash line, and 284 home runs. With a hit total of 1,846, he was probably two years away from getting to the 2,000 mark. His 116 OPS and wRC+ is solid as well.
Over the course of his career with the Nats, Zimmeran played in 35 postseason games. Washington got bounced out of the playoffs in the NLDS their first three postseason appearances, but in 2019 broke through for the franchise’s (Montreal and DC) first-ever World Series championship.
Zimmerman has cemented his place in Nationals history having been been synonymous with the team since being drafted in 2005. During his tenure he has served as a fan favorite and franchise icon, despite never really ascending to MLB stardom. Although it’s not likely he’ll ever make it to Cooperstown, he’ll undoubtedly be enshrined in the Nationals Hall of Fame, which is a solid legacy.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano