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Zimmerman's Streak: Inside the Numbers

Tonight, in San Francisco, Ryan Zimmerman goes went for 30. And 30 is important, when it comes to hitting streaks. Thirty is when it gets serious, when the streak grows from a local story to a national one, when you start seeing Wee Willie Keeler's name tossed around freely.

Yes, 30 is still almost a month away from getting into DiMaggio territory, but it's close enough to where you feel the need to count ahead in order to find out where 57 might occur. (In case you're wondering, June 12 at Tampa Bay 11 at Nationals Park, barring rainouts. Exactly a month away.) It's also only about two weeks' worth of hits shy of the National League record of 44, shared by Keeler in 1897 and Pete Rose in 1978.

This decade, there have been only six hitting streaks of 30 or more games (none since Moises Alou in 2007), and only three that have gone beyond 30.

Here are all the previous streaks of 29-plus this decade:

PLAYER (YEAR)................ STREAK....HR....RBI...... BA..........OPS
Jimmy Rollins (2005-06)................38......3......23...... .379........1.046
Chase Utley (2006).......................35......9......30...... .405........1.151
Luis Castillo (2002).......................35......2......14...... .403........ .904
Moises Alou (2007).......................30......4......17...... .403........1.029
Willy Taveras (2006).....................30......1.......7....... .349......... .830
Albert Pujols (2003)......................30.......8......26...... .390........1.172

Ryan Zimmerman (2009).............29......8......26...... .381........1.087
Johnny Damon (2005)...................29......3......13...... .348......... .916

Looking at those numbers, you begin to realize how remarkable a stretch Zimmerman is having. As you can see, his batting average of .381 during his streak is in the middle of the pack, but his OPS of 1.087 is topped by only two other members of this decade's 30-plus club (Albert Pujols at 1.179 during his 30-game streak in 2003, and Chase Utley at 1.151 during a 35-gamer in 2006). Only Utley (nine) had more homers and drove in more runs (30) than Zimmerman (eight, 26) during their streak.

Another impressive thing about Zimmerman's streak: It's the longest hitting streak by a third baseman since George Brett went for 39 games in 1980. (While we're at it, check out Brett's numbers during his streak: A .497 batting average and a 1.345 OPS -- surely one of the hottest stretches of hitting in the history of mankind.)

Fifty-seven games would earn Zimmerman a healthy measure of immortality. Forty-five games would get him an NL record that is unlikely to be equalled for years, if not decades. Thirty-nine would give him the longest by a player this decade. Thirty-one would (should?) earn him a well-deserved standing ovation Friday night at Nationals Park, before his first plate appearance of the homestand.

But before any of those numbers come to pass, there is 30, which is also very important, and which is tonight.

By Dave Sheinin  |  May 12, 2009; 1:10 PM ET
 
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Next: You Should Always Throw Strikes

Comments

Dave, this is such a great post. Thank you.

Also, George Brett? Never heard of him. Was he any good?

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 12, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Dave, are you telling me that Ryan Zimmerman is a better choice for my 25 All Star votes than Lastings Milledge?

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

And in a way he may have a better chance at it than with any other team. Less pressure, less media exposure. Its not like the Yankees. Its not like the Nationals are expected to go anywhere. No pressure until he gets close to DiMaggio.

Posted by: periculum | May 12, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

This may be, for the Nats, like McGuire/Sosa for baseball, post-strike (minus the asterisks, we assume)--something good to pay attention to, despite the other.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 12, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

periculum, I think if he gets close to Rose and Keeler, he'll start to feel it.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 12, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it a heinous violation of baseball etiquette to even discuss a streak? Indeed, he had a good game last night, otherwise, you're not supposed to talk about what else he's done and CERTAINLY not discuss what he is GOING to do!

Posted by: Section314 | May 12, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

314, I'm with you. The first word that came to mind when I saw this post was "jinx." I hope I'm wrong.

Go Nats!

Posted by: usmc53 | May 12, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I am getting seriously ticked off that there is no national media attention given to Guz's (now) 29 game no-walk streak.

How many games do you think Rose, Keeler, or Joe freakin' DiMaggio could go without drawing a walk? Four or five tops?

Respect the Streak!

Posted by: joebleux | May 12, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

To me, the streak's great of course, and long (57!) may it last, but the underrated part of Zim's breakout-in-progress is his power jump - he's slugging .630 so far this year, which is WAY above his career average so far. He won't sustain .600 SLG, but even if he settles back to .550 or so - that's David Wright/Chipper territory. With Zim's D, that kind of production clearly puts him up into the elite of the category. That's the Zim everybody thought he would be.

So to me, as cool as the streak is, I'm loving the power - I wonder how much of it is Dunn rubbing off on him.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | May 12, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Off topic: Chico, check this out: Sports Illustrated has Peter Angelos as the worst MLB owner and Ted Lerner fifth.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb/05/08/mlb.owners/index.html?eref=T1

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | May 12, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Dave, George Brett never hit in 39 straight games. His streak was only 30 games in 1980. Paul Molitor, who also played some third, hit in 39 straight games in 1987 for Brewers. Anyway, would love to see Zim make it past Rollins' mark. It will be tough though.

Posted by: ggreen1 | May 12, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Just seconding Highway295's post. I'm thrilled by the streak, and hope it continues, but I'm even more excited by what this may mean for Ryan in terms of a breakout year. This might be the season we've been waiting for, when he jumps from "nice player" to "perennial All Star contender." 295's right that he won't hit this way all year, but it's great to be banking these numbers given that he's been a slow starter. And if he finishes the season with a .900+ OPS and a great glove, that's a helluva player and well worth his contract.

Posted by: Section220 | May 12, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

>Dave, are you telling me that Ryan Zimmerman is a better choice for my 25 All Star votes than Lastings Milledge?

I don't know, you've got Acta as manager. Better stick with Milledge.

Posted by: Brue | May 12, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

He damn well better get a standing ovation whether his streak is in tact or not.

For that matter, I wonder if there will be a spike in attendance based just on the good road trip and Zim's ridiculously hot bat.

As far as national coverage - I wouldn't be too mad. Baseball Tonight (aka the best show on tv) had a long bit on the streak last night. Granted it was a slow baseball monday, but still, I think the coverage is/will be there.

Streaks aren't like perfect games, they're too long to be jinxed by mentioning. Zim has already answered tons of questions on it and probably discusses it all the time.

He's always got the too-cool-for-school baseball player extra calm routine going on, but I swear I could tell he wanted to smile SO BAD after his single last night.

Gotta love it!

Posted by: nattaboy | May 12, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

p.s. this type of buzz is probably the only thing that can unseat Wright for NL starter in the Lou. And he's doing it. What a badass.

Posted by: nattaboy | May 12, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

@231

Cal plays the game right, prepares for the game right, and is a very intense student of the game. I remember that he was the one that called positioning (IF, and sometimes OF) and sometimes pitches in the days before he retired. He has been affiliated with baseball, runs a minor league team. He gets instant respect, he is local. What more do you want?

Posted by: swang30 | May 12, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

>So to me, as cool as the streak is, I'm loving the power - I wonder how much of it is Dunn rubbing off on him.

It all dates back to opening day at Nats Park, and he fouled off a bunt with them 4 runs down, then he chased some outside stuff, and I'm in the box seats and I yell 'IF YOU CAN'T PULL IT, DON'T SWING AT IT'. Dunn nodded his head in the on-deck circle. And I'll be damned if he didn't shorten his stroke and look to pull more instead of just make contact. Because you can see him pull the ball better than he ever did before.

See - it's the power of positive thinking! Maybe we can use it to get rid of Acta. ommmmm ommmmmmmmmm good bye Manny ommmmmmmmm baba rum dim ommmmmmmmmmm

Posted by: Brue | May 12, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"For that matter, I wonder if there will be a spike in attendance based just on the good road trip and Zim's ridiculously hot bat."

Stan apparently thinks so. He hasn't felt the need to go on the radio in Philly to invite their fans down for this series. Although there are still a few days left yet.

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

New post.

Posted by: JennX_ | May 12, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"It all dates back to opening day at Nats Park, and he fouled off a bunt with them 4 runs down, then he chased some outside stuff, and I'm in the box seats and I yell 'IF YOU CAN'T PULL IT, DON'T SWING AT IT'. Dunn nodded his head in the on-deck circle. And I'll be damned if he didn't shorten his stroke and look to pull more instead of just make contact. Because you can see him pull the ball better than he ever did before."

There it is. Proof that enough alcohol consumption leads to delusions of grandeur and self-importance. Drink a few more and you'll be a Red Sox fan, fully embracing your right to vote Milledge for All Star.

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I also thought of the jinx possibility, but according to the OP, Zimm is covering the superstition bases by using the same batting gloves and cleats throughout. I think I also read somewhere that he had faced more individual pitchers than DiMaggio had during his steak, or did I imagine that?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 12, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I just don't know how to count but I keep coming up with June 11th at home against the Reds as #57. Is the make up game/double header against Philly this weekend messing me up?

Posted by: krw1010 | May 12, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Discussing a streak is perfectly acceptable... discussing a no-hitter, on the other hand, is strictly forbidden!

Posted by: outsider6 | May 12, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Keep thinking of how weird it would have been had Zimmerman not gotten a hit the other day when the game was suspended (to finish July 9 sometime)...then his streak continues to say 57 games...and he comes up to bat on july 9 to finish out the suspended game... The pressure to keep his streak alive by getting a hit in the "past" would have been an awesome thing to watch.

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | May 12, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I really love that it's Zim who has this streak going. Good things happening to a good guy, for once. He's a class act.

Posted by: Baldino | May 12, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

[quote=swang30]Cal plays the game right, prepares for the game right, and is a very intense student of the game. I remember that he was the one that called positioning (IF, and sometimes OF) and sometimes pitches in the days before he retired. He has been affiliated with baseball, runs a minor league team. He gets instant respect, he is local. What more do you want?[/quote]

hmm... lessee... actual coaching and/or managing experience? an actual desire to manage a team? cal doesn't have the first and has never, as far as i know, expressed interest in the second. and remember, most successful managers were not hall of fame players. being a hall of fame player, even a student of the game hall of fame player, is not necessarily a qualification to be a manager. managers are teachers, coddlers, psychiatrists, mentors, motivators, leaders (something cal was knocked for in his career, fairly or unfairly)...

look, i'm a cal ripken fan. grew up watching him, appreciate the kind of player he was, the kind of person he is with his support of the community, and i enjoy listening to him (and his brother) on the radio. but none of those things means he'd be a good manager of an MLB team. they sound nice to a casual fan, and it would add some name recognition and be a big tweak on angelos' nose (and that would be fun), but they don't necessarily add up to making a good major league manager.

again, i don't think that's a put-down on cal at all. and maybe he could become a good manager. but with no managing or coaching experience in either the majors or the minors, this is not the right kind of move to make.

Posted by: sec231 | May 12, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

He's getting a little national attention finally- I heard Scott Van Pelt and Mike Tirico talking with Joe Morgan about Zim's hit streak this afternoon around 3:45 on ESPN radio! If he keeps getting hits, I'm sure more attention will come with each game.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | May 12, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe I just don't know how to count but I keep coming up with June 11th at home against the Reds as #57. Is the make up game/double header against Philly this weekend messing me up?"

More likely it messed Sheinin up. He obviously forgot to count two games this Saturday. That puts the date of a possible #57 at Thursday June 11th, a 4:35 game at Nationals Park against the Reds. And check this out - that game is an exchange date for season ticket holders in both the future game ticket exchange program and the unused ticket exchange program. Might be worth doubling down on ticket exchanges for that day, with the thought that if the streak continues they'll be worth a lot on StubHub...

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 12, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Listening to the local Bay Area broadcast last night - they talked about the streak a lot and had a little video snippet of Zimmermann talking about it that they played more than once.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | May 12, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Doug Gotleib on ESPN Radio also mentioning Zim today.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | May 12, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

>Drink a few more and you'll be a Red Sox fan, fully embracing your right to vote Milledge for All Star.

I was sober. How do you think I remembered it? I mean, voting for Milledge would be like voting for you. You'd probably wrap your finger around the bat on a bunt too.

Posted by: Brue | May 12, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

joebleux:

The national media is starting to weigh in. Mike Francesa on WFAN 660-AM in New York has been all over it today.

Meanwhile, the local electronic media is sound asleep. John Thompson spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out if Kobe Bryant or LeBron James is a better post-season basketball player.

WTEM is a completely asinine enterprise.

Posted by: EnoughISEnough | May 12, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

GRiP's count is correct -- assuming that Zimm plays in both ends of Saturday's double-header. Which bring up the question as to whether the streak relates only to consecutive games played by the player, or whether it includes all of a team's games. If he doesn't play in both games, does the streak continue? Manny Acta needs to know....

It would be something though -- at the very least the tying game would be a home game (barring rainouts) -- and the record-setter could also be a home game.

Posted by: fischy | May 12, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Great post! Just curious - Did any of those six take a day off or would that stop the momentum?

Posted by: ilovethenats | May 13, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Glad to see the WaPo got around to recognizing this extraordinary sports event. There's more to life than NHL playoffs.

Posted by: JohnRDC | May 13, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

GalRevelsInPee

May well be the greatest screen name ever!

Posted by: rgj21 | May 13, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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