Ryan Zimmerman (1B, WSH): 3-5, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
As the clock winds down on his career, Ryan Zimmerman looks like he’s trying to ride off into the sunset with a bang, with Saturday’s three hits marking the 121st such effort of his career and bringing his triple-slash to an excellent .321/.354/.564 (147 wRC+). Perhaps opting out of last season gave Zimmerman the juice for one more quality campaign. While his batted ball numbers are down relative to his last full season (42% hard-hit; 91 MPH average exit velocity; .394 xwOBACON), they remain pretty dang good for a 37-year old.
While a legend like Albert Pujols probably didn’t deserve the treatment he just got from the Angels organization, it’s always worth it to stop and appreciate a player who shuts the door on their own terms. A .321 batting average will usually make retirement look like a choice, rather than a necessity, as it becomes for many. The three runs he scored last night gave him sole possession of the lead for the most scored in Expos/Nationals history, passing Tim Raines. When he retires at the end of the year, Zimmerman will have a monopoly on nearly every offensive counting stat in franchise history—he trails Raines by an insurmountable margin only in walks, and sometime later this summer barring injury, his 1768th game played for the Nats will pass Tim Wallach for the most all-time.
Franchise legends of that magnitude are rarely so quiet, nor do they often go out with such little fanfare. He may not receive the Mo/Jeter farewell tour, but with his current production, Nationals fans will enjoy his coda nonetheless. As a White Sox fan who was eminently dismayed by the rapid skill deterioration of Paul Konerko, a franchise stalwart perhaps of a similar cloth, watching a hitter go out on top is always worth appreciating, especially the rare one with as storied of a connection to an organization as Zimmerman.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday
Mike Zunino (C, TB): 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI.
Zunino breathed some life into the offensive wasteland that is the catcher position on Saturday, putting his considerable power on display with a pair of critical hits in Tampa Bay’s 3-1 win over Toronto, first with a 392-foot blast against Robbie Ray in the fifth inning then narrowly missing another with a 370-foot double in the left-center field gap to help chase Ray in the seventh. He’s now batting .223—nearly 20 points above his career average—and leading all catchers will 11 dingers.
Max Muncy (2B, LAD): 3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI.
The Dodgers’ lefty has been en fuego during the month of May, running an OPS north of 1.200 and recording eight multi-hit efforts, including his third three-hit game in an eight day span on Saturday. Despite a slow start to the year, he’s now leading the NL with a .457 OBP and a 15% barrel rate sitting in the league’s top ten percent.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, KC): 2-3, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB.
Is Beni Back? I’ll let you make up your mind after reading Chad Young’s article from last week, but Benny Biceps was out in full force last night, driving in three runs in Kansas City’s 7-5 win over Detroit and chipping in a run, walk, and steal on top of it. With just three bombs and five doubles on the season, Benintendi’s power is still MIA, but Saturday’s performance is part of a promising May in which he’s batting .356/.392/.452, and with six steals on the season already, he looks to be tracking closer to his 2017-18 All-Star-ish form on the bases than his sluggish 2019-20 self, at least.
Fernando Tatís Jr. (SS, SD): 2-3, 2 2B, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB.
If Fernando Tatís Jr. knew he was making Batter’s Box appearances this often, would he get sick of it? Who knows, but we don’t, as Tatís came just a dinger away from his third consecutive combo meal, and I don’t have the gumption to draw up the Baseball-Reference search required to figure out when the last time anybody did that was. Being who he is, neither of the shortstop’s extra-base hits on Saturday were cheap, breaking 106 MPH on one and yanking the other straight down the left-field line. At his current pace, Tatís could feasibly make a run at 40-40, though it would take more durability than he’s shown to this point in his career.
Danny Santana (OF, BOS): 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB.
Speaking of combo meals, the only one of Saturday night came from Danny Santana, who celebrated his return to the majors with a home run that turned out to be the difference-maker in Boston’s 4-3 win over the Phillies. That makes two homers in two games for Santana since his call-up, and with Boston’s outfield situation fluid at best, he could be a name to watch as the season goes on, as he is just a year removed from a .290 BA/28 HR/21 SB outlier effort with Texas a couple of years ago.
Ozzie Albies (2B, ATL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Albies continued to break out of this week’s 0-20 mini-slump with his eighth and ninth homers of the season on Saturday, his second straight day with two hits and a bomb. Both of his homers were over the league average of 104 MPH, driving in half of Atlanta’s six runs in their win over Pittsburgh. It’s been a mixed bag for Albies in 2021, but with his Statcast contact metrics at comfortable career highs across the board, he still looks the part—mostly—of one of the league’s top handful of second basemen.
Freddie Freeman (1B, ATL): 2-2, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB.
Freeman also played a considerable part in Atlanta’s victory, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances and stealing his second base of the season. After an atrocious start to the season at the plate, the reigning MVP has picked it up quite a bit as of late, picking up hits in 12 of his last 14 games and slashing .340/.453/.642 in that span.
Gleyber Torres (SS, NYY): 3-4, 1 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI.
The Yankees offense continues to ride Torres, who had the league’s only four-RBI performance on Saturday in the Yankees 7-0 shutout of the White Sox. Though only one of them was hard-hit and another slightly misplayed by Leury García in center field, a little batted-ball luck is probably what Torres needed at this stage of the season. He finally looks like he’s heating up after a season-opening power outage, hitting two homers and driving in nine in the last week after totaling just one homer and seven RBI through his first 30 games.
Eduardo Escobar (3B, ARI): 2-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Torres isn’t the only stocky once-middle, probably-corner-in-the-future infielder finding his power stroke after a slow start, as Escobar now leads the National League with 35 runs driven in after his fifth homer in eight days on Saturday. With just a single walk in the month of May, not much else has changed about Escobar’s profile, and he looks to be one of the few steady run producers in a weak Arizona lineup.
Anthony Santander (OF, BAL): 3-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB.
The bank that’s open on the weekends returned from a month-long injured list stint with a bang on Saturday, ripping hard-hit balls from both sides of the plate against three different pitchers and coming up a triple short of the cycle in the process. Hopes are high for Santander after hitting 31 HR and driving in 91 over 570 plate appearances in 2019-20, and with Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins, and Austin Hays all hitting well this season, there are more opportunities for run-producing in the Baltimore lineup than we may have anticipated.
Adolis Garcia (OF, TEX): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
García apparently took offense at being excluded from yesterday’s round, recording what’s already his second career multi-homer game to move him into a tie with Shohei Ohtani for the American League lead. Both of his dingers were moonshots that broke 400 feet and 105 MPH, and as a whole, league pitching still has yet to adjust to García, who’s gotten even better with time, slugging .739 over his last 18 games and maintaining an average exit velocity in the top five percent of the league.
Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)
Castellanos (2 HR, 2 doubles, bb) Riley (2HR) don’t even get mentions in top hitting performances?