Will Zimmerman Fly Under Radar?

Heading into the 2008 season, Ryan Zimmerman was a Top 10 fantasy third baseman according to most cheat sheets. Then he suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss 47 days during the year. Prior to the injury, Zimmerman was having a poor season. He posted a .257/.291/.427 line in 220 plate appearances before hitting the DL. Upon returning to the active roster, Zimmerman went .306/.370/.455 in his final 245 PA. And there has been no reports of lingering problems with the shoulder in the off-season.

Zimmerman hits for a pretty good AVG but does not offer the slugging one would expect from a top 3B. His HR/FB% has been remarkably consistent the past three seasons, with last year’s 11.5 percent a tenth of a percent higher than his previous two campaigns. The problem is he doesn’t hit enough fly balls. Last year his FB% was just 34.1 percent.

Since we know Zimmerman is not going to be a big HR threat, he needs to maximize his other categories in order to be an elite player at the hot corner. A .300 AVG is not out of the question nor is 100 RBIs and Runs.

If Zimmerman can hit those targets, he could be a top 10 3B even with a HR output in the low 20s. One thing to keep in mind is the depth of the 3B position, which gets a big boost from players at other positions (like Kevin Youkilis, Aubrey Huff and Christopher Davis) who played mostly elsewhere in 2008 yet still surpassed the 20-game mark at the hot corner. It’s not a given Zimmerman will be a starting-quality 3B.

But fantasy owners can’t simply allow Zimmerman to fall off the radar, either. Because of last year’s injury problems and his lack of big HR numbers throughout his career, he’s likely to be under-valued in many drafts. And with a decent chance to approach triple-digits in Runs and RBIs, Zimmerman offers a lot of upside for a player apt to be available in the bottom half of most drafts.

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