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Ryan Zimmerman has been having trouble with his throwing mechanics

Apr 5, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

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Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has committed 135 errors in his ten-year career, and a whopping 97 of them — 72 percent — have been throwing errors. Zimmerman has ranked second in baseball in errors committed in each of the last two seasons, with 21 and 19, accounting for nearly one-third of all the errors committed in his career.

One of them happened in Saturday night’s game against the Braves. With a runner on second and two outs in the top of the fourth, Andrelton Simmons hit a ground ball to Zimmerman, seemingly an easy third out of the inning. Zimmerman, however, made an awkward-looking, high-trajectory throw to first baseman Adam LaRoche that pulled him off the bag, allowing Simmons to reach safely and for the runner to score safely. Zimmerman later exited the game with shoulder soreness.

Zimmerman has never been Mr. Dependable at third base, despite winning a Gold Glove award in 2009. But his issues were exacerbated by off-season shoulder surgery in 2012, hampering his mechanics, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The cold weather Zimmerman has had to deal with to begin the 2014 season hasn’t helped either, but Zimmerman is careful with the words so as not to use it as an excuse.

“For anyone that has something, cold is never really a good thing,” Zimmerman said. “Some days feel better than others, whether it’s warm, cold, whatever. But that’s everyone in baseball. I don’t like really saying things about that, because everyone goes through stuff. It’s not really an excuse. Everyone who plays baseball has something like that.”

The Nationals have had a bit of consternation over Zimmerman’s issues at the hot corner, but ultimately remain optimistic the 29-year-old can continue making progress.

Zimmerman admits that he’s never going to feel the way he did early in his career again, and has spent some time learning the ins and outs at the position at the opposite side of the diamond. The Nationals and LaRoche would both have to agree to execute 2015’s $15 million option while the club is in the first year of a six-year, $100 million extension with Zimmerman. Extracting as much value out of Zimmerman as possible, even if it means moving him to first base, behooves the Nationals. Zimmerman says he could “definitely play” at first base in a game if necessary.

  1. napol231 - Apr 5, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    “Zimmerman has never been Mr. Dependable at third base, despite winning a Gold Glove award in 2009”

    Um yeah he kinda was (as much as any 3B can be) from 06-09, hence the Gold Glove. And when he makes throws on the run, he’s as dependable as anybody. But he’s just terrible on routine plays. Must suck for LaRoche that with every bad throw he makes, the more likely it is Zimmerman takes his job.

    • dcfan4life - Apr 6, 2014 at 12:29 AM

      Agreed, makes ya wonder if its more mental than physical. If he has to grab a bunt, near perfect everytime when charging, hard plays when diving, excellent. His glove, outstanding. But if he has one second to think about how to throw it to first, then sometimes he has issues. Like today. Laroche is in the last year of his deal. At Adams age, and if nothing improves for Zimmerman, i can see Ryan at first next year too.

      • David Proctor - Apr 6, 2014 at 1:00 AM

        I don’t think it’s mental. It’s a completely different throw and arm slot. Zimmerman can make the sidearm throw, he can’t make the overhand throw. Ryan has had plenty of overhand throws airmailed when he doesn’t have time to think.

      • paperlions - Apr 6, 2014 at 9:39 AM

        Nah, his shoulder is mince meat. He can’t throw overhand anymore, which is why he slings it side-arm, often getting under the ball and sailing otherwise easy throws.

    • ch0psuey - Apr 6, 2014 at 1:28 AM

      Have to agree. Seems the hard plays he doesnt think about but the routine throws he thinks too much. We have the same problem with Chase Headley on my Padres.

  2. David Proctor - Apr 5, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    By advanced metrics, Zimmerman was an elite 3B in 2009 and that general time frame. He was completely deserving the Gold Glove then. What’s happened recently is just sad. I feel for him.

  3. dw3dw - Apr 5, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    Before LaRoche signed his two year deal it looked like Zimmerman would be groomed for 1B, Rendon would stay at 3B, and Espinosa would have 2B.

    • sportsfan18 - Apr 6, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      Well, this is the last yr for LaRoche so they could move Zimmerman over to 1st base next season.

  4. threeskis - Apr 6, 2014 at 5:56 AM

    It’s called the Yips….not physical at this point.

  5. schmedley69 - Apr 6, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    This Nats dynasty is looking short-lived. I can envision these guys being doormats again in the near future.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 6, 2014 at 12:09 PM

      Not with that rotation.

      • cbradley42014 - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:04 PM

        thank you for that schmedly69 must not know too much about baseball cant tell from ridiculous comment.

    • cbradley42014 - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM

      you dont know what you are talking about you must be a braves or phillies fan you sound like a JEALOUS HATER JUST watch my nats dominate the nl east next ten years or so no one can match our talent level in nl east lol hater.

  6. carpi2 - Apr 6, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    The Nats should take a look at seeing what Zimmerman’s trade value. If he has shoulder issues, which affect his throwing mechanics, on would have to think those shoulder issues will eventually affect his bat. Might be best to trade him while his value is high.

    • cbradley42014 - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      there is absolutely nothing wrong with his bat as you will see this year he just cant make overhanded throws i for one can live with that. he is a tremendous hitter.

      • carpi2 - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        It may not be afftecting him now, because swinging is an action which is performed below shoulder level. However, as his shoulder continues to degrades, he will find it uncomfortable to force his right shoulder into adduction to complete a swing.

        Get your popcorn ready and watch the inevitable decline in his bat 😉

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