Ryan Zimmerman has long been the face of the Nationals’ franchise, so it’s been tough for the team to see him miss so many games this season.
Zimmerman has played in 53 of Washington’s games, missing half of the season so far due to thumb and, more recently, hamstring injuries.
When he’s been available, he’s performed well — with a .282/.345/.456 line with five home runs and 36 RBIs.
“He makes the whole lineup deeper and doesn’t give pitchers a break,” center fielder Denard Span said.
Zimmerman was put on the 15-day disabled list on July 23. With what’s been reported as a Grade 3 hamstring strain by mlb.com, he could be out for a while.
The Nationals have yet to find a suitable replacement for Zimmerman in the lineup.
Here’s how his absence has affected the team:
The Nationals score more runs with Zimmerman in
In the 53 games Zimmerman has played, the Nationals have averaged 4.6 runs per game. In the 52 games without him prior to Thursday night’s game against the Phillies, the Nationals have scored an average of 3.7 runs per outing.
Without Zimmerman’s bat, the Nationals have had to use Danny Espinosa (.217), Kevin Frandsen (.234) and Zach Walters (.205) at the plate. None has come close to what Zimmerman offers offensively.
On Thursday, the Nationals traded Walters to the Cleveland Indians for infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, who is hitting .246 this season.
Zimmerman provides a spark to teammates
The numbers suggest Zimmerman’s presence boosts some of his teammates.
Two key contributors that bat near Zimmerman in the lineup, Jayson Werth (.284) and Ian Desmond (.250), are great beneficiaries. In games Zimmerman has appeared in prior to Thursday, Werth held a batting average of .293, with Desmond a notch below at .292. In games Zimmerman has been forced to sit out, Werth’s average dips to .275, and Desmond plummets to .207.
Odds of winning increase with Zimmerman
When Zimmerman was in the lineup for Washington, the Nationals went 34-19. Without him, the Nationals were 24-28 heading into Thursday night.
With the Nationals clinging to a small lead in the NL East, they don’t have much margin for error.
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