When Washington Nationals’ top prospect Anthony Rendon was called up from AA Harrisburg after Saturday’s win against the New York Mets, many fans and pundits across baseball wondered how the injury to Ryan Zimmerman could affect the Nationals and their “World Series or bust” proclamation by Manager Davey Johnson. While this injury seems like it could have a negative impact, Rendon’s call-up will allow Nationals’ management a glimpse into the future and see how their corner infield could shake out in the next two to three years.
While the Nationals will miss Zimmerman’s lifetime .282 batting average, Rendon may be a more than adequate replacement at third base. Recently, both fans and the media have questioned Zimmerman’s ability to play third base in the future and have speculated that Zimmerman could be moved to first base eventually to make room for Rendon at third. General Manager Mike Rizzo will now be able to evaluate Rendon’s abilities in his likely two-week stint with the club in order to help him make a decision about the future of the hot corner for the Nationals.
Zimmerman, who turns 29 at the end of this season, has seen his production in the field fall steadily from his gold-glove season in 2009. In the 15 games Zimmerman played prior to being placed on the disabled list, he made a total four errors. While that is not a high number, a gold-glove caliber third basemen would likely not be making that many errors in the field. Zimmerman has had two different injuries in the last two seasons including a hamstring injury that landed him on the disabled list Saturday against the Mets and a shoulder injury last year that resulted in off-season surgery. First base would not be as straining as a position physically for Zimmerman whose body appears to be breaking down.
The call-up of Rendon is reminiscent to when phenom Bryce Harper was called up last season in late April. Zimmerman went down with an injury and Harper was brought up for his major league debut. While Rendon is not quite the prospect Harper was, Zimmerman’s injury gives the Nationals’ the opportunity to see what the future holds for them.
(All statistics used are from baseballreference.com)