Nationals – Ryan Zimmerman
Offensively, the rest of these rankings are fairly close – at least on paper. The bottom line is that performance at the plate will ultimately depend on each team’s ability to keep their players on the field for the most time.
In this instance, the biggest separator for placing Ryan Zimmerman in this position is his glove – or more specifically, his arm.
As noted, while the bottom-line-number metrics don’t really give us a true indication of how first basemen actually handle their position, this is simply a sad fact: you want the Nationals to be in a defensive situation in which Zimmerman has to throw the baseball.
This is well-known and well-documented. The Nats has managed to hide this enough so that Zimmerman’s bat can do most of the talking, but when a first baseman makes 7 throwing errors during the course of a season, it’s still noteworthy.
On the offensive side, Zimmerman recovered nicely from a bad/injury-plagued stretch over 2014-2016 (.218 in 2016) to post a solid 2017 at the plate:
- 36 homers
- .303 average, .358 OBP, .930 OPS
- 138 wRC+ and 108 RBI to bolster a stacked lineup (which probably doesn’t hurt his numbers)
- Overall scored a 29.9 offensive rating with fangraphs and 3.3 fWAR
So really, it’s all about defense for Zimmerman, for he held up his end on the offensive side very well… at least in 2017. So in this group of first basemen, that ranks him…