Thursday, November 11, 2010, 6:30 p.m., Updated at 7:47 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
NATIONALS PAGE NATIONALS VIDEO
Managers and coaches didn't believe Ryan Zimmerman was the National League's best defensive third baseman this season, but they did believe he was the NL's best offensive player at the hot corner.
Zimmerman won the Silver Slugger award this evening, the second straight year the Nationals' star has been honored as his position's best offensive performer.
Zimmerman set career highs in batting average (.307), on-base percentage (.388) and OPS (.899) while also hitting 25 homers with 85 RBI. Those power numbers were down from his 2009 totals of 33 homers and 106 RBI, but that was in part because the 26-year-old missed 20 games with a variety of minor injuries.
"I think a lot of the numbers that people look at as far as home runs and RBI and runs scored were down, just because I didn't have as many games played," said Zimmerman, who has fully healed from the strained rib that sidelined him for the Nationals' final 10 games. "But I think the other stats, if you look past those numbers are more important: on-base and slugging and my average were high."
A career .284 hitter prior to this season, Zimmerman bested that number by 23 points, finishing eighth in the NL. Cracking the .300 mark, he felt, was an important progression in his development as a hitter.
"When you look at guys who hit .300 and have the ability to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 guys in a season, there's only a handful out there," he said. "If you can do that consistently every year, you become one of the elite players in the league. ... For me to take that step forward this season was very important to me."
Zimmerman beat out a deep class of fellow NL third basemen including David Wright, Mark Reynolds, Scott Rolen and Casey McGehee.
This award comes one day after Zimmerman (generally regarded as the best defensive third baseman in the NL) lost out to Rolen for the Gold Glove award, also voted on by the league's managers and coaches.