Cleveland Indians: Don’t be fooled by Bradley Zimmer’s power
Cleveland Indians fans should be wary of Bradley Zimmer’s power. While it’s nice to see, he’s still struggling at the plate.
The rise of Bradley Zimmer has been something that fans of the Cleveland Indians have been waiting for for a long time. A first round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft out of the University of San Francisco, Zimmer quickly climbed the ranks of the minor leagues and debuted early in the 2017 season.
The 2017 edition of Zimmer showed some promise with the normal road bumps for a first year player. He played in 101 games and slashed .241/.307/.385 with 15 doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 18 stolen bases while accumulating 39 RBI. Then the injuries started to pile up.
From 2018 through 2020, Zimmer played in just 63 games for Cleveland, slashing .192/.287/.282. He logged just five doubles and three home runs, stole just six bases and tallied only 12 RBI. However, lately is seemed like Zimmer started to turn a corner. The Tribe moved him up in the order and he started thriving. Then another road block came.
When Myles Straw was acquired from the Astros at the trade deadline, it pushed Zimmer down in the order, back to where he struggled. Unfortunately, it seems like those struggles have resumed. While Zimmer has had a few electric moments, he still isn’t quite up to par for what Cleveland needs in an outfielder.
Don’t get me wrong, hitting home runs over 450 feet will make fans excited, but you have to do more than that at the plate and the numbers for Zimmer just aren’t where they need to be. And while his power is getting him some attention, he still has just six home runs this season.
Over the last 28 days, Zimmer is still hitting just .233/.301/.425 at the plate. The power has come around with four home runs over that span, but he has just two doubles and has struck out 29 times with only six walks.
The more recent, but smaller, sample size is even worse. Over the last seven games, Zimmer is batting below the Mendoza line with a batting average of .190. His full slash line isn’t much better at .190/.182/.333. He had that towering home run from the tweet above, but beyond that he has just three hits over the last week despite 21 official at-bats, with nearly half ending in a strikeout with 10.
While Zimmer has played more frequently, which has in turn allowed him to show more power, he’s actually playing worse over the last month than his full season sample size. Sure, the power has increased with 67% of his home runs in 2021 coming this month, but his batting average and on-base percentage have both taken a dip.
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On the season, Zimmer holds a slash line of .244/.343/.366 with 22 walks over 239 plate appearances. However, during the month of August, the month that he’s played the most, he’s batting .232/.295/.435 with just five walks in 78 plate appearances. The sample sizes are obviously different, but there are trends. While Zimmer’s power has increased in August, he’s walked 3% less, than his season stats, dropping from 9% of his at-bats to 6%, in addition to seeing his average be 12 points lower.
What it boils down to is that while Zimmer’s power might be an exciting new addition to the line up, it doesn’t mean that he’s come around yet. There’s still plenty of work to be done and unfortunately it seems like when he fixes one thing another issue comes up.
Zimmer has absolutely shown flashes this year, there’s no doubt about that, but will it be enough to keep his roster spot? I’m not sure. The team let go of Tyler Naquin last offseason and while Naquin’s 2020 season was worse than Zimmer’s 2021 campaign, Naquin had the better career numbers by far.
If Zimmer is kept, it will be on a year-by-year basis. There’s prospects that are quickly climbing the ranks that are sure to be part of the long-terms plans and if they continue performing well, Zimmer will most likely get pushed out. The reality for him is that he’s facing a “too little, too late” scenario and he’s quickly running out of time.