After playing a stunning season at third base, Ryan Zimmerman’s defensive prowess and acrobatic grace were rewarded when he was named the first ever ESPN Web Gem Champion. For those who have never watched Baseball Tonight, a Web Gem is an honor bestowed on the five greatest defensive plays of each night. As we’ve tracked at various times in this blog, Zimmerman has collected the most Web Gems (19) and Web Gem points (61) this season (points are on a scale of 1-5 with five going to the No. 1 Web Gem and one going to the No. 5 Web Gem). He also led the Nationals to victory in team Web Gem points. Zimmerman is in some good company at the top of the leaderboard. Former Virginia teammate Mark Reynolds finished behind him with 53 points.
Some interesting facts about the 2009 Web Gems, from Buster Olney’s blog on ESPN.com:
– 309 different players made at least one Web Gem in 2009
– Every team made at least 15 Web Gems this season
– A total of 776 Web Gems and 2,357 Web Gem Points were awarded
Winning this award has confirmed to Nationals fans what we have already known all along: Zimmerman is good at the hot corner. Baseball Info Solutions, a statistic tracking company that charted every defensive play in 2009, ranked him second in the Majors in “Good Fielding Plays” behind Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. We can also measure his success using the Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). UZR measures the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined. UZR/150 measures his UZR over 150 defensive innings played. This year, Zimmerman had a UZR/150 of 14.1 which is tops in the National League for third basemen (Kevin Kouzmanoff of the Padres is second at 7.5). Just for comparison’s sake, Zimmerman’s counterpart on the Mets–David Wright–ranks last in qualifying third basemen with a UZR/150 of -10.1.
Congratulations, Ryan! We look forward to hearing your name when they announce the Gold Glove Awards later this year.