Story by Kyle Graham
So far, we have had a very exciting start to this young baseball season. However, nothing is more fascinating to me than the resurgence of Ryan Zimmerman and Eric Thames. Zimmerman is a 13-year veteran who has played every season with the Washington Nationals and is playing better than he ever has and Thames is a man who went overseas to the majestic land of South Korea and came back to the MLB as the co-leader in home runs (11) through the first month of the young season. This man literally averaged 41 home runs in three seasons in the Korean league and is now continuing to do the same with the Milwaukee Brewers. That is pure insanity and for those who say that baseball is boring, shame on you.
Now, those are not the only things that have occurred around the league. The Mets have, and stop me if you have heard this before, struggled early on with multiple injuries (what’s new), the Cubs’ starting pitching has been a dumpster fire, and the Diamondbacks and Rockies have battled back and forth for first place in the NL West.
However, the only thing that I expect to remain the same out of this list is for the Mets to continue to struggle with injuries because let’s face it, the baseball gods have not been on their side as of late. With that said, let’s get to the breakdown of these two early-season headliners.
Zimmerman and the Nats
Coming into the month of May, the Nationals look like the most dangerous team in baseball. They currently have the best record in the MLB at 17-8, and Bryce Harper looks to be back to his normal MVP self.
Besides losing Adam Eaton for the year to a torn ACL and their bullpen struggles, everything seems to be clicking for this team. But more importantly, everything seems to be clicking for Ryan Zimmerman.
*As of right now, Zimmerman leads the league with a batting average of .420 (nice), 11 home runs, and 29 RBI’s.
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Zimm and have enjoyed watching him play, but this year he has elevated his game to whole different level. After the first month of the season, he is on pace for the prestigious triple-crown award, which is when a player leads the league in home runs, batting average, and runs batted in.
He also leads the league in Slugging percentage (.886), On-base Plus Slugging percentage (1.345), and hits (37). Now, it is highly unlikely for the 32-year old vet to keep up this stellar production, especially since there have only been 14 players earn a triple-crown in the history of baseball. But, if he could maintain at least half of this production alongside the likely MVP Bryce Harper, the Nats will have a really good shot at winning their first ever World Series.
Thames is Flames
As I previously mentioned, Eric Thames is coming off a three-year stint in South Korea and is now knocking the cover off of baseballs with the Brewers.
During his first stint in the MLB (2 seasons), he posted a pedestrian combined stat line of .249, 21 home runs, and 62 RBI’s. Already this year he has a batting average of .341, 11 home runs, and 20 RBI’s. He is also 2nd in the league in runs scored (29 runs), which is actually tied with Larry Walker’s 1998 season for the second highest number of runs scored in the month of April in MLB history (Bryce Harper broke the record this year with 32 runs scored).
He is also top 3 in walks (19) and 2nd in the league in slugging percentage (.795).
Although the Brewers are tied for first place in the NL Central with the Chicago Cubs, I do not expect this trend to continue. I do however expect Thames to have a solid year and receive his first All-star nod, but in a sport with an extremely long season he will most likely endure a slump in the upcoming months and see his production fall off a bit.
As we enter the month of May, I expect more exciting things to come. I expect players like Josh Donaldson and Gary Sanchez to come strong off the DL (and help my fantasy team) and for the Cubs to fix their starting pitching woes and reclaim their spot as the number one team in baseball.
I also expect to see more promising play from MLB’s young stars such as Aaron Judge, Corey Seager, and Trea Turner as they continue to prove that the next generation of baseball players are going to continue to take this league by storm. This is going to be a great season of baseball and the best part is, we still have five months left.
Featured image for this post courtesy of Major League Baseball