Nationals Feel Zimmerman Is Good as Gold

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 1, 2007

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 30 -- The Gold Glove is the most nebulous of baseball awards, one built as much on reputation, track record -- and, in some cases, offense -- as it is on defensive achievements in a given year. So as the voting for the best defender at each position takes place, it would be easy to look at Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, consider his 23 errors, and move on.

The Nationals, with their season wrapped up, don't think the equation is that simple.

"He's the best," Manager Manny Acta said.

"I think Ryan Zimmerman, this year, has shown he's a Gold Glove third baseman," General Manager Jim Bowden said.

The Gold Gloves are voted on by players and coaches. St. Louis's Scott Rolen has won seven of the last nine in the National League, but Rolen was limited to 112 games this season because of injuries. There is an argument for Zimmerman, though, even though his error total tied for second-most among NL third baseman.

Zimmerman's range helped him lead the majors in total chances by a third baseman with 511, and he also led in assists and was involved in more double plays. Zimmerman also rated well in two measures of defense. His "range factor" -- a measure of how many balls he gets to -- was second in all of baseball, and his "zone rating" -- a measure of how well he plays balls in the normal zone for a third baseman, as well as out of it -- ranked third. The coaching staff also believes that, had Nick Johnson been at first base rather than the immobile Dmitri Young, some of Zimmerman's errant throws would have been saved.

"This guy saved more runs than he drove in," Acta said -- a significant statement, given that Zimmerman led the Nationals with 91 RBI. "He's phenomenal."

After committing four errors in a two-game span in Atlanta earlier this month, Zimmerman played his last 20 games without an error.

Up in the Air

Though Nationals President Stan Kasten told play-by-play man Bob Carpenter of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network that the club would at least look at other options in the offseason, it's possible Carpenter will be back for a third season. The Nationals approached ESPN's Dan Shulman, but he elected to stay put. That leaves the door open for Carpenter to return. A resolution is expected this week.

The radio team of Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler is also expected to return, though an impending deal with Bonneville Corp. to keep the games on 1500 AM and 107.7 FM has not yet been announced. . . .

Several Nationals coaches met with Acta before Sunday's game, and an announcement on their futures will be made Monday. Pitching coach Randy St. Claire and bench coach Pat Corrales are assured of being back, and indications are that third base coach Tim Tolman and hitting coach Lenny Harris will also return. It's possible some roles will change.

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