Masterpiece Theater at the Hot Corner
If you didn't watch last night's game you should look up some highlights. Don't get too drawn in by the Morse grand slam or Harper's two run blast. Pay more attention to the man at the hot corner. The man who has been the one constant presence on the Washington Nationals since 2005. Against the Mets last evening Ryan Zimmerman did a few Ryan Zimmerman things and they should be admired as much as any painting hanging in The National Gallery of Art.
If the DC art scene knew what was best for them they would put on entire exhibits of Ryan Zimmerman's defense. The man is an artist at third and can paint with his glove hand while sculpting with has bare hand. There were three classic Ryan Zimmerman defensive plays last evening. There was the always popular diving for the hard hit liner and throwing out the runner from his knees, and then there was the snagging a sharp grounder on the backhand side and throwing out the runner while falling backwards into foul territory, and finally the ever popular cutting across the infield grass and throwing a to second while perpendicular with the bag to start a double play.
The only play that was missing that one finds on the Ryan Zimmerman highlight reel is the attempted bunt that is fielded cleanly with a bare handed pick up and thrown underarm to first. Ryan Zimmerman has been making defensive porn since his debut in the majors. Think back to his rookie year and a catch he made ranging into the outfield and diving headlong to turn a Pete Orr double into an inning ending out. Think about all the times a fast runner has tried to bunt down the third base line only for Zimmerman to sprint in and throw them out be an eyelash. All the throws made while falling backwards into foul ground. The list of great Zimmerman defensive plays goes on and one.
This is Washington, after all, and the defense budget gets the most attention. Ryan Zimmerman at third base is a one man highlight reel. The game last night is just the latest example of why whenever Zimmerman makes a good defensive play Charlie Slowes can't help but exclaim, "The Z-man does it again." It is hard to argue that that is anyone better in the game at third than Ryan Zimmerman. The man is a master of the hot corner. He turns sharply hit objects into easy put outs with such regularity that it has become expected.
If any of this is hard to grasp then simply watch a game where there is no Ryan Zimmerman and see how many balls are hit to the left side of the infield that leave you wondering where the third baseman was, or why for all these other teams those aren't routine outs. The plays Zimmerman made last evening were not routine. Unless your name happens to be Ryan Zimmerman, and then any ball hit in your direction has a chance to be speared, stabbed, snared, or snatched and turned into a harmless out.