Ryan Zimmerman, now likely out through mid-June with a torn rectus muscle in his abdomen, probably doesn’t qualify as one of baseball’s top 10 performers just yet, but as far as irreplaceable players go, he’s very near the top.
In Zimmerman’s absence, the Nats have been trying to get by with Jerry Hairston Jr. and Alex Cora at third base. Hairston is currently hitting .220/.316/.300 in 50 at-bats, while Cora is at .139/.205/.167 in 36 at-bats.
Taking just their appearances at third base into account, they’ve combined to hit .228 with one homer, five RBI and five runs scored in 57 at-bats.
And that’s not all the Nationals are losing. Zimmerman is a Gold Glove defender. Hairston and Cora are merely average. Plus, the Nationals are missing out at a second position, since Hairston figured to be make his biggest contribution as a center field against lefties.
The effect of one or two injuries to a team is often overstated by baseball analysts, but losing Zimmerman for a couple of months is a huge blow to a Nationals team that spent big over the winter in order to improve their standing and bring more fans into the ballpark.