Cleveland Indians: Bradley Zimmer making strong case for 2022 outfield spot
Bradley Zimmer making strong case for 2022 outfield spot with the Cleveland Indians / Cleveland Guardians
The 2021 season has not gone according to plan for the Cleveland Indians, but that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been bright spots. The team has struggled this year, but that has opened the door for more opportunities for players who might not have received them otherwise. One of those players that has taken full advantage of the situation has been Bradley Zimmer.
The former first round pick by the Tribe is now 28-years old, turning 29 in November, and many thought his time might be run out with Cleveland. However, he’s proving that only does he have more left in the tank, but he deserves a spot in Cleveland’s outfield moving forward, perhaps even starting.
Zimmer had shown promise early in his career, but whether it be injuries or inconsistency there just wasn’t enough for him to stay on the big league roster. Now, he’s putting together the best year of his career yet and the second half has been impressive.
For starters, Zimmer has played in 62 games this season at the major league level, something he hasn’t done since 2017. On top of that, he is putting up his best slash line yet in Cleveland at .251/.360/.374 along with five doubles, a triple, five home runs, 22 RBI and nine stolen bases.
While we’ve yet to see if he can sustain that moving forward over a full season, the signs are promising. If you take his current stats and spread it out over a full season, saying he plays about 150 games, missing 12 games for days off, matchups, etc., the results are hopeful. With his current stats spread out over 150 games, he would have about 108 hits, 12 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs, 53 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
Now, that might not seem like a stat line that jumps off the page, but for Cleveland that could be enough to earn a starting spot. Those stats also include what was a slow start to the season for Zimmer. His more recent stats are the reason he’s making a case for 2022.
Over the last 14 days, Zimmer is slashing .275/.348/.550 with two doubles, three home runs, seven RBI and two stolen bases. Again, there isn’t one stat that just jumps off the page, but it’s a well-rounded line from a player that can do a lot of things well, but maybe not one thing great.
The All-Star break is what has really made the difference for Zimmer. Since then he’s been able to slot in towards the top of the lineup and that’s where he’s been putting up the better stats. When he’s in the first or second spot of the order, he’s batting about .286 with two doubles, two home runs, five RBI and two stolen bases while drawing three walks.
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The promising aspects for Zimmer is that this isn’t something new exactly. When he first came up in 2017, this is what was expected from him. His average is a bit above average and he has equal potential to hit a home run as he does to steal a base. In many ways, he’s a not-as-great version of Grady Sizemore. He won’t be in the 30-30 club anytime soon, but he has similar tools that just aren’t as strong.
Timing will also play a role. Of all the positions in Cleveland, outfield might be the most up for grabs heading into 2022. The starting rotation and bullpen have struggled, but there’s still rather identifiable roles and leaders at those positions. The same can be said for the middle infield. The outfield on the other hand is wide open.
Harold Ramirez has earned a spot, but beyond that it’s really anyone’s best guess. There isn’t really a top prospect ready to emerge and the multitude of bats that have been tried haven’t exactly impressed. Trading for Myles Straw leans to the idea that he has a spot, but nothing is guaranteed.
If Zimmer can keep this up through Spring Training he could very well earn a starting spot on Opening Day. An outfield of Zimmer, Ramirez and Straw is starting to seem more likely, especially with Josh Naylor’s timetable still unknown. There’s of course the chance that the team signs someone or some diamond in the rough prospect emerges, but as of now Zimmer is making the strong case to at least make the Opening Day roster in 2022 if not hold one of the starting spots in the outfield.