WASHINGTON — Ryan Zimmerman, known as Mr. National, has agreed to a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals.
The first baseman and World Series champion is staying in the District after hitting .257 with nine doubles, six homers, 27 RBI, 17 walks and 20 runs scored in 52 games for the Nats in 2019.
Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement Tuesday.
Zimmerman is a first for the team -- their first basemen and their first draft pick.
He was the team's first draft pick in 2005 when they plucked him No. 4 overall out of the University of Virginia. He's gone from the 21-year-old kid in the clubhouse, learning at the knee of the late Hall-of-Fame manager Frank Robinson, to a World Series champion.
Last year Zimmerman battled plantar fasciitis in his right foot, leading to two stints on the Injured List. But when he returned to the active roster Sept. 1, Zimmerman hit .283 (15-for-53) with one double, three homers, 12 RBI, five walks and eight runs scored in 19 games during the months of September. He clubbed three home runs and 10 RBI in his first seven games back, a Nationals press release said.
Mr. National hit safely in 10 of the Nats' 16 Postseason games on the way to becoming 2019 World Series Champions. He homered in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers and in Game 1 of the World Series off Gerrit Cole -- the first World Series home run in Nats history.
He stands as the all-time National (2005 to present) leader in nearly every offensive category.
"In 1,689 career games, he’s hit .279 with 401 doubles, 22 triples, 270 home runs, 1,015 RBI, 630 walks, 43 stolen bases and 936 runs scored," the Nationals press release said.
His 270 career home runs are the most in District baseball history.
Zimmerman wasn't always a champ. Like a lot of kids his age who played Little League, he fantasized about one day being a big-leaguer. The only problem was, young Zim was about to hit his teenage years and he was a flat-out rail: Corn-silk thin, constantly looking like he needed a meal:
But he grew. And grew. And Zimmerman became so good at baseball that the University of Virginia took a gamble on the barely-recruited high school player and offered him a scholarship. He starred with the Cavaliers for three years before the Nationals beckoned. After a short stint in the minors, he was brought up to make his Major League debut on Sept. 28, 2005, sharing third-base responsibilities with the veteran Vinny Castilla. By next spring training, the job was all his.
All these years later, he hasn't changed much, his folks said
Zimmerman has also more tenure than any other Washington pro athlete, beating Alex Ovechkin’s 2005 Capitals debut by a month. If any player on the roster embodies Manager Davey Martinez's #StayInTheFight slogan on the Nats, it’s Zim.
He went from a scrawny kid to a college athlete to a World Series Champion. Now Zimmerman is known as a fan-favorite. When the Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series, Zimmerman's parade speech left listeners in tears.
Zimmerman had a reason to be emotional. The face of the franchise has been with the team since the very first day 15 years ago, long before a Nats World Series was a possibility, a fact that wasn't missed on him.
After the massive crowd on Pennsylvania Avenue broke out into " We want Zim!" chants, the 35-year-old decided to get on stage and say his piece.
"Like Mr.Lerner said, it was worth the wait ... The fans, we grew up together," he said. "I came here when I was 20-years-old, right out of college. You guys hadn't had baseball in a long time. You were learning how to be fans again."
It was those fans that Zimmerman looked out onto the streets to choking back tears. The fans he said that have been "nothing but supportive."
"Thank you D.C., you guys have been great, you guys were behind us all the time," he said. "I truly believe this is the greatest city to play sports in the world -- thank you."
WATCH: Ryan Zimmerman's full speech at the Nationals World Series Parade
Zimmerman thanked his supportive fanbase and showed his gratitude to his teammates, who he described as "a cast of characters" that overcame a truly rocky start and never gave up. The speech eventually led to a big group hug with Zim in the middle.
"These guys, we fought all year long to stay together. We came from a dark place in June," Zimmerman said. "We played playoff games from June 1 on and I think that really helped us. There's not a team I wouldn't have wanted to do this more than these guys."
Zimmerman looked away from the crowd and back to his teammates who sat directly behind him, the same ones that stuck by his side the 74-31 season, the same teammates that celebrated on the field of Minute Maid Park after Game 7.
"We're 2019 World Series Champs and nobody can ever take that away from us," he said to the boys, who were all clad in their lucky navy jerseys, despite not needing any more luck for the season.
Hands raised in triumph victory, he let out a yell that seemed to signify only one thing: a finished fight.
Now Mr. National is back for another year.