Monday, November 13, 2006
Zimmerman Left At The Altar
He will always be known as the very first draft pick of Our Washington Nationals. And, when his career ends, 18-20 years down the line, hopefully all those years wearing a Washington Nationals Uniform--Ryan Zimmerman may well have completed a Stellar Career-maybe even a Hall of Fame Career.
But, today--National League Baseball Writers of America, jilted Zimmerman and voted Florida's Hanley Ramirez the 2006 National League Rookie of The Year. Hanley claiming 14 First Places Votes to Ryan's 10 and winning the award with 105 total points to Z's 101. Three writers DID NOT even have Zimmerman as a top 3 Rookie. Now, who are those MORONS!!. They should have their Writers Card Torn Up and sent by their papers back to covering the Minors. Z not top 3 Rookie?? That's ridiculous!! Those 3 writers cost Ryan the deserved award. Ramirez hit well from the leadoff position, stole 51 bases, scored 119 runs and showed some pop in his bat with 17 Home Runs--but its obvious these writers were all caught up in the GLITZ and SHOW and not substance. Ramirez is a fine offensive talent. He's quite mediocre in the field. 26 Errors in 2006. Only 2 other players had more--FLop (Felipe Lopez) had 28 errors.
None of Hanley's stats compare to Ryan Zimmerman's incredibly consistent, all around, Rookie Season. While Knocking in 110 Runs and smashing 20 homers, batting .287, Number 11 showed a tremendous flair for the dramatic. Game winning bottom of the 9th Homers against the Yankees and Marlins at RFK Stadium. Game tying Homer off Mets Closer Billy Wagner, the first week of the season, resulting in a Nats extra inning win at Shea Stadium. Zimmerman among the league leaders, all season long, driving in runners from scoring position.
Yet, hitting is not what Z is best known for--its his fielding. Time and time again, throughout the 2006 season, Ryan showed cat reflexes on smashes down the line or into the hole. Diving to his right, sprawling to his left, to snare a hard hit ball. Already, at 21 years old, he may well be the best in the game at charging in on a slow roller, scooping the ball, and, all in one motion, sidearm toss to first to retire the runner. Zimmerman is one smooth fielder. 15 Errors for the year, the same as perennial Gold Glove Winner, St. Louis Cardinals 3rd sacker, Scott Rolen. Ramirez is no where near the quality infielder as Zimmerman. NOT EVEN CLOSE. The Giants Omar Vizquel had 4 errors, Houston's Adam Everett-7 and, the Phillies Jimmy Rollins-11 errors at Shortstop. All with equal amounts of total chances as Ramirez.
Very few defensive plays compare to that rainy Friday night, last April, against the Atlanta Braves, when Atlanta's utility infielder, Pete Orr, slapped a looper into no man's land down the left field line at RFK. Z--running with his back to home plate, looking straight up in the air--extending, flat out parallel to the ground to basket catch the ball. No one, and I mean NO ONE, at RFK that night thought Zimmerman had any chance of reaching that ball. It was the Defensive Play of The Year for Washington--Frank Robinson jumping off his perch along the railing in the 3rd base dugout to personally congratulate Ryan on the catch.
Ryan Zimmerman, along with Alfonso Soriano--were the Nationals One-Two Punch all year long. They both brought excitement to the park each and every day. Zimmerman halfway through the season--looked more like a 5 year veteran. Going into a hitting slump on for only a few games, before adjusting and breaking out again. Frank Robinson batting Ryan in the 3rd spot in the batting order over most of the last half of the season. Frank showing great respect for Z's young talents.
From our viewpoint in Section 320--we have front row viewing of Z's excellence in the field. I get a kick out of each and every time, an inning comes to an end, and the Nats are jogging off the field, Zimmerman--no matter where he is on the field--will retreat back to the 3rd base bag and step on it, before heading to the dugout. Whether he has crossed over the pitchers mound to make the final toss throw of the inning, or ran all the way down the left field line to catch a pop up--you can bet--Ryan will head to 3rd first. Superstition in baseball lives with Ryan Zimmerman. You gotta luv it.
Make no mistake about it, Ryan Zimmerman is THE NEW FACE OF OUR WASHINGTON NATIONALS. Beloved by many Nationals Fans already (Especially Ms. Zimmy in Section 320--"Come ON ZIMMY!!"). The few times The African Queen and I had the chance to meet him--he was generous and decent with his time--to a fault. Just the type of person a New Franchise needs to build around.
I would never want to place so much pressure on the guy and compare him to one of my other favorites that have played the game with the same proud composure. But, I will anyway--Ryan Zimmerman has all the makings of being as Perfect for Our Nationals as Cal Ripken was for The Orioles. Lets hope Zimmerman can continue to improve his game and become one of the best players in the game--and THE BEST PLAYER to ever wear a Washington Nationals Jersey.
Unfortunately, some Baseball Writers are not looking at that total package--and today jilted Ryan Zimmerman, like a groom whose lost his bride--Number 11 Left At The Altar.