Monday, September 8, 2008

Just Let Zimmy Be Zimmy

Bill Ladson is at it again, setting ridiculously high expectations for players. In today's mailbag, he returns to one of his favorite targets for unreasonable expectations: Ryan Zimmerman.
Q: Is Ryan Zimmerman a .290 hitter and a 30-homer, 100-RBI guy or am I expecting too much?
-- Tony L., Amelia, Va.

A: No, you are not expecting too much. In fact, what I expect from Zimmerman is much higher than your numbers. He is aware of it, too. I see batting and RBI titles in his future. I think he can be a 30-30 player if manager Manny Acta gave him the chance to steal bases. Of course, I want to see more bunting from him. To me, Zimmerman is a complete player.
Here's how many players last year hit .290 with 30 HRs, 100 RBI and 30 stolen bases last year: zero.

In fact, here's the all-time list of .290-30-100-30 guys:
Ken Williams, 1922
Hank Aaron, 1963
Dale Murphy, 1983
Eric Davis, 1987
Jose Canseco, 1988
Barry Bonds, 1992
Barry Bonds, 1996
Dante Bichette, 1996
Ellis Burks, 1996
Barry Bonds, 1995
Barry Bonds, 1997
Larry Walker, 1997
Alex Rodriguez, 1998
Jeff Bagwell, 1999
Vladimir Guerrero, 2001
Vladimir Guerrero, 2002
Alfonso Soriano, 2002
Bobby Abreu, 2004
David Wright, 2007

Willie Mays never did it. Mr. 30-30, Bobby Bonds never did it. Remember Soriano's magnificent 40-40 season in 2006? He fell short of this standard on both RBI (95) and AVG (.277).

Look, The Mighty Zimm is a very good player. I like him a lot.
He's still just 23. As I've said over and over I think the Nationals should have signed him long-term long ago.

But to set out these expectations for any player is crazy. And coming off an injury-plagued year, I think all Nationals fans would just like to see him make his first all-star game.

So yes, Tony, you are expecting too much. You can hope for that if you want, but expect 20-25, .280-.290, 85-95 RBI. And gold-glove defense. And if you get that, be psyched.

Finally, I'm just going to skip the part about how idiotic it is that he wants a guy who he thinks is a future batting and RBI champ with more than 30 HRs to bunt. I guess it's too late to skip it.


Hendo said...

If Zimm could drag bunt for base hits in the late innings when the Nats are tied or down by a run, I just might see the value of that.

Otherwise, he'd look ridiculously like Derek Jeter has in the past in such close situations.

On the whole, I'd take a pass on it.

Dave Nichols said...

Bill Ladson = Irresponsible Baseball Journalism

Steve Shoup said...

Well i agree with Ladson that I think Zimm could have some more SB's (though not 30, more like 20). As for bunting I think its a situational thing especially in the NL (late inning, close games ect.) Steven I completely agree with your projection of Zimm's numbers though I think in a year or two with protection around him you could see Zimm being a .300 plus hitter but with this lineup he's never gonna see good pitches.

Steven said...

@Steve--sure he could be better than what I said. I consider that a reasonably optimistic projection for him. And then if he does even better, then shoot the moon.

The studies I've seen have tended to say that "protection" is overrated, though. If you see a big jump from him in a couple years (right around the time he leaves in FA?) it'll be more because he's hitting his prime ages of 26, 27 YO.

Will said...

In Ladson's own words:

"Without a doubt, Kearns has a future in the big leagues. What I think has to stop, and only general manager Jim Bowden can put an end to it, is to stop calling Kearns a potential superstar. Barry Larkin said it best. Kearns is a good complementary player. I think the fans would ease up on Kearns if Bowden finally admits what Kearns really is as a player."

I think Bill needs to reread what he writes. This issue isn't exclusive to Kearns. And JimBo isn't the only one inflating expectations to impossible levels.

Mike said...

@Will ... wholeheartedly agree. With Bowden it's pretty clear that everyone he drafts, trades for, or even likes is labeled as a superstar. According to JimBo everyone he touches turns to gold. It's a hard thing to measure, but I'd bet that Bowden has ruined more than a couple players with his inflated expectations and rhetoric.

As for Ladson, is there another beat writer with less knowledge and understanding of of his/her own beat? Whenever I read him I always get the feeling that he just started watching baseball a few years ago and still doesn't have the context yet.

Regarding Zimmerman, the reason Ladson has consistently been on record with those crazy projections is because of David Wright. I don't know if he's a closet Wright fanboy, or if he's so emotionally "invested" that he can't stand the fact that Wright is a better hitter, but Ladson is incapable of objectively reporting on Zimmerman as long as Wright is alive. I also think Ladson views them as the same (type of) player. Because, you know, they grew up in the same town and play the same position. This is where the lack of context/frame of reference comes in. Nevermind that Zim is twice the defensive player.