Two-time All-Star and 2019 World Series champion Ryan Zimmerman announced his retirement from Major League Baseball today. The decision marks an end to a 17-year MLB career spent entirely as a member of the Nationals organization.
Zimmerman released a statement via his agency CAA Baseball, the full extent of which can be found on Twitter. Therein, the 37-year-old thanks the Washington fanbase, Nationals’ ownership and front office, his former teammates, coaches/training staff and agents, and his family. “Although my baseball career has come to an end, my family and I will continue to be heavily involved in the DMV community. You have given so much to us over the past 17 years; it is now time for us to give back to you. We look forward to continuing many of our community programs and starting new ones in the future. Our kids will be raised here, as this is now our home, and we couldn’t be more excited. So this is not a goodbye but more of a ’see you around.'”
The franchise made the transition from the Expos to the Nationals over the 2004-05 offseason, relocating from Montreal to Washington. That summer, they selected Zimmerman with the fourth overall pick coming out of the University of Virginia. The first official National draftee, the right-handed hitter would debut in the major leagues just a couple months later. So kicked off an MLB career that’d span nearly two decades and cement him as one of the most important players in franchise history.
Zimmerman hit very well as a September call-up in 2005, and he was pencilled into the starting lineup at the beginning of the following year. Immediately, he proved a quality all-around performer. He hit .287/.351/.471 as a rookie, pairing that above-average offensive output with excellent third base defense. He narrowly finished behind Hanley Ramírez in that season’s NL Rookie of the Year balloting, but Zimmerman would land some accolades before long.
Between 2007-08, he posted slightly above-average offensive marks while continuing to rate as one of the league’s best glovemen at the hot corner. Yet his career really took off in 2009, when Zimmerman made important strides in both his power output and walk rate en route to a .292/.364/.525 showing. That checked in 30 percentage points above the league average offensive performance (130 wRC+), and Zimmerman collected his first career All-Star appearance, Silver Slugger award and Gold Glove while garnering some down-ballot MVP support.
Not only did he back up that breakout showing the following season, he arguably got even better. Zimmerman hit .307/.388/.510 that year, collecting another Silver Slugger and a few more MVP votes. Despite the accolades, he was perhaps a bit underrated over that two-year run as the team stumbled to a pair of last-place finishes. Only five position players (Albert Pujols, Evan Longoria, Joe Mauer, Carl Crawford and Chase Utley) topped Zimmerman by FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement measure between 2009-10.
Zimmerman had signed an early-career contract extension before his 2009 breakout, locking him in as a building block for a franchise that finally emerged from a long-term rebuild a few years into the 2010’s. He didn’t quite maintain his 2009-10 level of play as he got into his late-20s, but Zimmerman remained a solidly above-average regular for the next few seasons. He combined for a .281/.348/.464 showing between 2011-13, playing a key role in the Nats winning the division in 2012 for the first time since relocating.
Along the way, Washington again inked Zimmerman to a long-term extension. This one, a $100MM guarantee that ran through 2019 with full no-trade protection, promised to keep him a member of the organization for at least the vast majority of his career. Injuries limited his workload between 2014-15, and he turned in an uncharacteristically poor season in 2016. Yet Zimmerman rebounded late in the deal.
Working exclusively as a first baseman as he got into his 30s, he posted one of the better showings of his career in 2017. Zimmerman popped a career-best 36 homers and hit .303/.358/.573 over 576 plate appearances that year, earning his second All-Star nod in the process. Recurring injuries kept him from ever again exceeding 350 at-bats in a season, but Zimmerman continued to hit at an above-average level when healthy in 2018.
Remaining with the Nationals throughout his career paid off most handsomely in 2019. Zimmerman only played in 52 regular season games, but he was no doubt a revered member of the clubhouse. He saw a fair bit of action during Washington’s run to a World Series title, collecting his first ring in his age-34 campaign. Zimmerman opted out of the 2020 season owing to COVID-19 concerns but returned for a final year with the Nats in 2021.
While he hit free agency at the end of last year, there’s no question the Nationals would have welcomed him back had he wanted to continue playing. General manager Mike Rizzo said in October that “Ryan Zimmerman has a place on this roster as a player as long as Mike Rizzo is the GM” and flatly stated he had a standing MLB contract offer on the table. Yet Zimmerman pointed to a desire to spend more time with his family and suggested he didn’t feel he had the drive to fully commit to playing another season (via Jesse Dougherty and Barry Svrulga of the Washington Post).
Zimmerman concludes his playing career having left an indelible mark on the franchise, highlighted by the “Mr. National” moniker long ago bestowed upon him by fans. His #11 jersey seems a lock to be retired by the organization, and he’ll no doubt be finely remembered by the Washington fanbase.
Altogether, Zimmerman compiled a .277/.341/.475 line across parts of 16 big league seasons. He totaled 1846 hits, 284 home runs and 417 doubles, driving in 1061 runs and scoring 963 times. Both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference valued his career around 40 WAR, and BRef estimates he compiled a bit more than $134MM in earnings. Zimmerman earned MVP votes in four separate seasons, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he garners some votes for the Hall of Fame when he appears on the ballot five years from now. MLBTR congratulates him on an excellent career and wishes him all the best in retirement.
I really hadn’t appreciated his career enough until looking at his numbers just now. Im not sure if he’s underrated or if that’s just me. A fine career indeed.
I’m slowly realizing unless the player played for the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers their career gets kind of overlooked
And yet, it feels surprising he didn’t approach even 2000 hits. He was a good hitter for a long, long time.
True. However, he’s only 154 hits shy of 2000 after factoring injuries & sitting out the shortened Covid season. I don’t know about you, but I’m still 2000 hits shy of 2000. I’ve caught three foul balls in my time as a fan, though. So, that ain’t bad.
Not a clever name
You get my vote for the HOF
I’ll take that vote. I made the best catch at the 2019 Futures Game of a Daulton Varsho foul ball (honourable mention to Joe Adell’s on-field catch) and, true story, I once caught a Josh Donaldson foul ball in my rum glass. Both catches received healthy applause. The third was an ARod foul ball I promptly threw back on the field – satisfying.
“ The third was an ARod foul ball I promptly threw back ”
Clipper, if you were near, I’d have tossed the ball to you. Next time, I promise.
Man, 30 Parks, you’re alright, fella.
Lol – 17 year career & and he was only physically available to play five full seasons?
Zimmerman averaged 110 games &; 273 Plate appearances over his 17 year career – Zimmerman unarguably was blessed with better than average ML talent & leadership, however, Zim was basically a part time player with average ML production for his position for the bulk of his career.
Lets cease the HOF talk…Good Freaking Grief.
Really thought that he might play one more season. Great career. That first round of the 2005 draft was impressive.
I think if there was no lockout he probably would have. It’s probably awfully hard, especially as an older player right now to drum up the motivation to get ready to play when it’s anyone’s guess when they will get to play again
I agree. After playing pro ball for almost 20 years probably all your bones are hurting and training is painful and doing that for a season that might not start in time or at all is hard especially if you only do it for a part time role.
Mr Nat. Being in the area it’s hard not to root for him. Great career. Glad he got a ring
He should have gotten more than one ring or played in more than one World Series but Mike Rizzo insisted on hiring crappy managers.. Ryan Zimmerman homered off Verlander in the Series so he did make a significant contribution in winning. Great guy and very good career.
Mike Rizzo didn’t hire Nats managers. The Lerners (owners) make that call. It’s been a head scratcher for Nats fans that they will carry an enormous payroll but won’t put out a few million more for a top tier manager.
I remember when he was was gold glove caliber third baseman. I honestly thought him and Longoria were gonna be winning gold gloves for the next decade.
The most similar hitter in history to Zimmerman is Longoria, according to baseball-reference.
I’m not sure people outside the DC area appreciate how much he means to the franchise and how good he was throughout his career. He was the first draft pick of the franchise (as the Washington Nationals) and made it as a September callup in 2005, hitting nearly .400 that month. Then, from 2006-2011, he was the one glimmer of hope fans had while the team was one of the worst in the league. He put up consistent all star numbers while playing incredible defense at third. Unfortunately, by the time they started competing in 2012, the injuries set him back to the point where he couldn’t play 3B anymore and he never quite matched his best offensive consistently, but he was still a key part of their playoff teams and their world series run.
You can always play the “what if” game with injuries, but he was on track for a HOF career until they set in around 2011-2012. As a someone who was 12 when the Nats moved to DC, his career meant so much to me and he will be missed!
And he wanted to remain with the Nationals in part to be close to his mother, who has a health issue. Great person.
That’s exactly how I felt about Don Mattingly. I can see Mr. National managing one day.
I still think Donnie is preferable to Boone. I know many LAD fans didn’t like him, but they also never had Booner.
Should have retired 5 yrs ago
He has only had 700 at-bats since 2017, so he basically did.
Dang, who pissed on your corn flakes?
More like who took a dump on his corn flakes!
With corn in the dump.
Both answers are Manfred.
The dude has a ring.. I’m sure he is happy with his choice.
He didn’t only get a ring, he hit a Home Run in the World Series. I’m sure he’s happy with his decision to stick with it.
I was in the area when he came up, and all I could think when I saw him play 3B that I had seen the next Brooks Robinson; he was THAT sensational with the glove. Not to mention that he carried himself with such professionalism. And I was told by somebody who worked for the Nats on the business side that he was the all-American nice guy, even to the folks in the office.
Class act all around.
Great career full of great moments. If I was a Nats fan I’d be very proud of having him as the face of the franchise.
I wonder if this really came out to him wanting to retire vs the nationals just wanting to move on. Really curious with the looming DH, but I’m sure with the lock out uncertainty it made the decision easier on him. Class act all the way and still a productive major leaguer through 17 seasons with one organization. You just don’t see that kind of loyalty or commitment often from either side anymore. You gotta respect this dude no matter how you may feel about his career.
Most likely Zimmerman’s decision. Mike Rizzo stated at the end of the season, that Zimmerman had a roster spot for as long as he wanted it.
I have a lot of respect for that type of GM. We don’t often see that type of loyalty in baseball.
@Clip I remember that Rizzo quote and kudos to the Lerners as well.
YBC, yeah, that was pretty awesome. You come out strong like that how can the fans not love your organization? Plus, the Nats do go for it. I know they backload everything, but they still try to put a great team on the field. They also try to extend/Re-sign their stars, ie, Soto. Much respect for that administrative group.
Zimmermann still would have been a fine platoon DH/1b as he still was ok against lefties and rizzo probably would have given him that chance but I still think it is better for the nats now that he retires.
As I said he still is a good platoon option against LHP (901 ops last year against lefties) and probably better than what the nats have but carrying a short side platoon 1b/DH is really not modern roster construction which relies on having lots of relievers and less but more versatile bench players.
That being said I’m sure rizzo would have given him another year, especially considering the nats are in a slight rebuild and likely not competing and being sellers again at the deadline.
Nats legend… A career many ballplayers would kill for. Respect from this Mets fan!
So good even Phillies and Mets fans say nice things about you, there’s really no better compliment than that.
The last Expo
No he wasn’t. Read the article.
Not a Hall of Famer
Given the controversial names that could be on the ballot when Zimm’s time comes I wouldn’t rule it out. He’s the polar opposite of what they’re keeping out of the Hall, I think they’d love to have his plaque hanging in their halls.
No one assumed you were. No need to announce it.
That’s awesome lol I love it too lol I just woke him and he went down
Since he’s retired I guess that means he can talk to Nationals management now. In fact he may now even be part of Nationals management. I believe he has a personal services contract with the Nats that begins as soon as he retires.
As a Phillies fan it’s been a bitter treat to watch Zim play all these years. Hats off to one of the classiest of players to have donned a major league cap.
Always enjoyed watching him play against my Phillies. Great ballplayer. Congrats on a great career. Could see him being a vet committe HOF guy.
Nats get the DH for 2022, Zim retires lol. All the best going forward.
First Ian, now Zim. Two of the guys who helped lead the team to respectability. Happy trails to both.
Underrated player like Adrian Gonzalez and Paul Goldschmidt
I was just thinking today how Goldy has kinda fallen under the radar in recent years. he’s not a superstar perhaps, but both a great hitter and fielder at 1B. I really do think he’s on a HoF pace.
The only reason Goldy isn’t a “Superstar” in the labeling department is because he’s never played in an market that get media favoritism. If he was, he without a doubt would be labeled as such. Other than Jose Abreu, he’s been distinctly better than all of the other regular 1Bs that have been in Chicago, LA, NY and Boston during his career.
That may be true, but I’ve always viewed him as one of (if not the) best 1B in the league, certainly in the top 5 perennially. He was often rated at or nest too very top by many positional leaderboard rankings too (like MLB Network).
it really was a treat that he managed to have one final real great season in 2017, and even though he’s been a role player since, that he still remained a productive player really was impressive. Happy retirement Ryan.
As a Nats fan and Season Ticket holder since 2005, it is great that he hit the first HR in Nationals World Series history (against Garrett Cole) and sent a message to the Astros that they were not guaranteed to win.
Much respect to a darn good player for so many years. I wish him the best in the next chapter of his life.
Thanks a ton and all the best to Zim. It’s amazing to reflect on how he’s been with the Nats since they moved to DC, through thick and thin all these years. He was extraordinary until he terribly injured his shoulder and stopped being able to throw well. Even in his final years he had impressive exit speed off his bat. I had hoped he would stick around this year if the NL got the DH but he will have a personal service contract with the Nats and I’m glad he’s committed to to remaining in the area. Bravo, Mr. National, and good luck to your Mom.
Very similar career WAR…Who do you take as an Expos fan? Zimmerman or Wallach? As you can guess by my referring to them as Expos I’ll take Wallach.
Enjoy it dude! 100% class act and a great ball player to boot
a class act sorry he is going to retire i enjoyed watching him play the game