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Does Ryan Zimmerman have the yips?

Apr 18, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

zimmerman getty Getty Images

Ryan Zimmerman has had a hell of a time throwing the ball lately. Nats Insider Mark Zuckerman writes about it. Zimmerman thinks it’s a mental issue. His teammates, while downplaying it, think it’s a confidence issue. Here’s Ian Desmond:

“In a sense, it’s a confidence thing. He’s never come to me before about how to hit a homer, or how to drive in a runner from second, or how to make a diving play. So I would imagine his confidence is a little down if he’s coming to me. I have some things that I see, but I think he’s to the point now where it’s right there. He’s gotten 100 times better.”

Zuckerman gives the obligatory name checks to Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch, Mackey Sasser, but correctly notes that, mental or not, this doesn’t look at all like what those guys went through. He’s not airmailing things. He’s just throwing wide or missing.

Given that it’s not classic yips, Zimmerman’s protestations aside, you have to wonder if it isn’t physical. He had shoulder problems and, as Zuckerman noted last winter, Zimmerman has changed his throwing motion.

  1. dakotah55 - Apr 18, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Yes. Certainly not as bad a case as Sax, Knoblauch etc, but the yips. Typically on plays where he has plenty of time to get set and think about the throw.

  2. voteforno6 - Apr 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    This only seems to happen on routine throws, when he has time to make it. He’s pretty accurate on his throws on the move. Because of that, it seems to be more mental than anything.

  3. recoveringcubsfan - Apr 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    It’s pretty straightforward: Zim had a bum shoulder pretty much throughout 2012 and he compensated by lowering his arm slot and trying to sidearm his throws even when his feet were set. If he did it right, even then he often short-hopped first base. If his arm was too low, he did airmail it, Craig, I saw it happen a lot last year. Most often, though, his front side just flew open and he threw wide. Maybe his asking Desmond for advice is because he knows SSs throw sidearm a lot. I dunno. Anyway, he doesn’t move his feet or trunk properly to make an accurate sidearm throw, so it’s just not for him.
    Except, of course, when he’s on the run, and he’s one of the best in MLB at throwing out hunters, for example.

    After getting surgery on the shoulder last offseason, Zim looks to me like a guy who remembers that throwing from a higher arm slot hurts and he loses focus and drops his arm sometimes. He’s a lot better than last year and he says the shoulder is fine, so I have to believe he just doesn’t yet believe he can throw normally without pain.

    • deweyks - Apr 18, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      Throwing out hunters? What the hell…

  4. illegalblues - Apr 18, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    I don’t think it’s mental. His arm slot is conducive to creating armside run on his throws, just like how a sidearmer gets that action on their pitches. His shoulder isn’t right and until it is, he’s going to have trouble making accurate non-sinker throws.

  5. thehairychestsportsblog - Apr 18, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Instead of the throwing issue, how about Rick Eckstein take a look at how he sets up in the box. He is like 17 feet off the plate and is getting worked on the middle to outside half of the plate.

  6. threeskis - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:39 AM

    Rarely do players with the yips get over it unfortunately. , Blass, Ankiel, Sax, Knoblauch, Sasser are probably the worst known examples. I’d really think hard about trading him to the AL and bring up Rendon before it affects his hitting. Baseball is 90% mental after all.

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