11/11/10 8:55 PM EST
Zimmerman's clout lands him Silver Slugger
Nationals third baseman wins offensive honor for second time
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Zimmerman is one of two members of the Nats to nab a Silver Slugger Award. In 2006, Alfonso Soriano won the award after hitting .277 with 41 doubles, 46 home runs, 95 RBIs and 41 stolen bases in his lone season with the Nationals.
Silver Slugger winners, presented by Louisville Slugger, are voted upon by the managers and coaches of all Major League Baseball teams to recognize the top offensive producer at each position in both the American and National Leagues.
Zimmerman had one of the best seasons of his career even though his season was cut short during the final week of the season because of a right rib strain. He hit a career-high .307 with 25 home runs and 85 RBIs. He also hit 32 doubles, scored 85 runs and established career highs in on-base percentage (.388) and OPS (.899).
"The numbers as far as on-base percentage and me learning to become a better hitter, they went up significantly," Zimmerman said during a conference call. "Part of my goal and part of my progression is to become an average hitter as well as a power hitter.
"When you look at guys who hit .300 and have the ability to hit 30 home runs and drive in a 100 runs in a season, there are only a handful that are out there. If you can do that consistently every year, you become one of the elite players in the league. That's my goal and pretty much every one's goal."
The first member of the Nationals to hit .300 or better against left-handers (.331) and right-handers (.300) in the same season, Zimmerman is one of five 2009 Silver Slugger recipients -- along with Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, Braves catcher Brian McCann and Twins catcher Joe Mauer -- to garner the Silver Slugger citation this year.
NL SILVER SLUGGER WINNERS
|C||Brian McCann, Braves||4|
|1B||Albert Pujols, Cardinals||6|
|2B||Dan Uggla, Marlins||1|
|3B||Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals||2|
|SS||Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies||1|
|OF||Ryan Braun, Brewers||3|
|OF||Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies||1|
|OF||Matt Holliday, Cardinals||4|
|P||Yovani Gallardo, Brewers||1|
Zimmerman's biggest 2010 highlight came on July 31. His three-run walk-off shot off closer Brad Lidge helped the Nationals defeat the Phillies, 7-5, at Nationals Park.
Since he made his Major League debut on Sept. 1, 2005, Zimmerman leads the Majors with seven walk-off home runs.
Zimmerman credits slugger Adam Dunn for his success at the plate the past two years. Zimmerman is able to get good pitches to hit because Dunn is hitting behind him. Dunn is currently a free agent and Zimmerman reiterated that he wanted Dunn to remain with the Nationals.
"It absolutely helps [to have Dunn hitting behind me]," Zimmerman said. "With runners in scoring position, if you walk me or pitch around me, then you have Adam to deal with. Earlier in the year, if you pitched around Adam, then you had [Josh] Willingham to deal with. As much as this award is mine -- having those guys behind me and having the guys in front of me -- we had a pretty good lineup. Having Adam come back could be a big priority for everyone, but it helps me out as well."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.