Ryan Zimmerman has been named the Players Choice NL Comeback Player of the Year. The award comes following his first all-star performance since 2009, and only the second of his long, successful career. Zimmerman’s health played a huge role in his selection, as he was able to play over 140 games for the first time since 2013. Zimmerman has oft been bogged down by injuries that have kept him off the field and kept him from settling into any sort of rhythm. This season was a different story, as he missed just 18 games and sparked #TheRyanissance as he reminded fans he could still be the same hitter he was in the prime of his career if he can stay healthy. At 32 and with the injuries he had suffered, writers had already written him off going into the year, which made his success and this award all that more special.
Between 2014 and 2016, Zimmerman hit a total of 36 home runs, while his batting average fell from .280 in 2014 to .249 in 2015 and then to just .218 in 2016. In 2017, he posted an incredible .303 batting average and hit 36 home runs, a new career high. He also posted a career high OPS of .930. His stat line is very comparable to NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt, who also hit 36 home runs while posting a batting average just short of Zimmerman’s and an OPS just ahead. Had Zimmerman played ten to fifteen more games and produced at a high level, he may have found himself in this very tight NL MVP race along with teammate Anthony Rendon.
In a league crowded with high profile first basemen in Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, and Cody Bellinger, it is relieving to see Zimmerman’s efforts did not go unnoticed. Zimmerman has been a quiet, humble person ever since his arrival in Washington. He does not seek the limelight like teammate Bryce Harper is known to do. He has not commented on the award yet, but would likely credit it to the his teammates and to the nationals coaching staff for helping him get back into peak shape and enabling him to win the award this year.
As long as Ryan Zimmerman can stay healthy for years to come, he has given fans no reason to believe he’ll slow down. As he enters his age 33 season, the Nationals new hitting coach Kevin Long will begin working with Zimmerman and will aim to continue to improve his swing. Zimmerman said earlier this year he credits Daniel Murphy for helping fix his swing. This season, Zimmerman will no longer learn fromMurphy, but rather from the man who taught Murphy and turned him from a dinky slap hitter into the MVP caliber player Nationals fans have come to know and Mets fans have come to fear.
This award culminates years and years of work for the original Washington National. Zimmerman has always had an incredible work ethic and led by example as the Nationals pseudo-captain since he joined the team for his first full season in 2006. 11 years, two all star games, countless injuries, and a position change from third to first base later, he is still leading the Nationals and showing no matter how bad your season is, you can always bounce back to seemingly impossible heights through hard work and dedication to the game.