For most of the past decade, Washington Nationals player Ryan Zimmerman has accepted the designation as the face of the team.
Solid and stoic is the brand Zimmerman has worn with the Nationals since the team used its first ever draft pick in 2005 to select him.
He has been with them from the opening of their new park, through the poor seasons and into the spotlight with fellow stars Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and others.
However, as the team reached new levels with three appearances in the playoffs the last five seasons, Zimmerman plunged to his lowest point as a professional, as his batting average, betrayed by injury sank in 2016 to just .218.
Baseball pundits were becoming almost certain the $48 million due Zimmerman through the 2019 season would be a lost investment.
The physical problems for three seasons hit Zimmerman’s mind and mental wellbeing causing him to continue his hard work ethic and remain positive to find a way out of his problems at the plate.
However, with a new season comes a new opportunity and it appears the injuries are behind Zimmerman and his play and numbers appear to bear that out.
His first five weeks of the season have him sitting atop the leaderboard in the National League in nearly every category on offense.
Zimmerman is the leader in the NL with a batting average of .410, 13 home runs and 34 RBIs. He also leads the league in slugging percentage at .855, overall hits with 48 and sports a 1.304 on base plus slugging percentage.
Zimmerman, who is 32, was limited to just 271 games over the past three seasons out of a possible 486. His injuries included plantar fasciitis to a broken thumb and wrist, rib cage and hamstring injuries.
Teammates praised how Zimmerman remained the same each day whether he was mired in a hitting slump, on the disabled list or enjoying a hitting streak.
The 20017 season is still very young and the loss of Adam Eaton’s bat protecting Zimmerman in the batting order could affect the pitches he sees going forward, but the team is still No. 1 in runs scored with the next closest club in the NL 30 runs behind their 202.
Even with Eaton out of the lineup, Zimmerman will be surrounded by hitters Harper, Werth and Daniel Murphy so he still should see enough good pitches to continue improving offensively and putting the poor results of the past three years behind him even more.