Most baseball fans know about the great draft class of 2005 and the amazing amount of college and high school talent that came out that year.
2005 was the first season the Nationals played in DC and with the 4th pick they took a young third basemen out of the University of Virginia by the name of Ryan Zimmerman.
The Nats wanted to add a player that would be able to make it to the bigs in short time so they could help get the market behind the first-year franchise. Zim delivered by making his big league debut in September of 2005 and has been the face of the franchise ever since.
Despite his injury issues over the past few years, he has shown that when healthy he’s one of the best defensive third basemen in the game and also has some pop. As we saw in 2009-2010 he can hit around .300, knock 30 homers and drive in close to 100 runs. That’s as good as it gets for a third basemen.
Having said that, I believe he deserved the $ 100 million dollar extension he signed over the winter. He’s under team control until 2020 and has been a great ambassador for the game and the city.
While I was watching the All-Star game last night I started thinking about what the Nats would look like if they had went another route back in ’05.
If you could fire up the DeLorean and go back to June 7, 2005 would you take Zim or would you go with one of the options below.
1st option: Ryan Braun
Braun went #5 to Milwaukee one spot after Zimmerman after a great career at the U. Braun came out of college as a third basemen and played exclusively there during his rookie season in 2007 before moving to left field the following season. While it took him two more years than Zim to get the call-up, hes been one of the top ten players in the game. He has career averages of 93 runs, 31 homers, 99 RBI’s and a .311 batting average. He was just named to his fifth All-Star team and won the NL MVP last season. If you would take Zim over Braun you are not thinking straight.
2nd option: Troy Tulowitski
The Long Beach State product went to the Rockies at #7 and made his way to the majors in late August of the 2006 season. In his first full season in ’07 he won rookie of the year (edging out Braun) and helped lead the Rockies to their first NL title and World Series berth. Despite battling injuries, he has two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards to his credit and is without a doubt the best shortstop offensively and among the best defensively when healthy. Again, I think Tulo would be chosen by most fans over Zim but I think this would be close.
3rd option: Andrew McCutchen
Most people are just getting their first look at “The Cutch” due to Pittsburgh’s surprising first half, but true baseball fans have had their eyes on this guy since he came up in ’09. He is a legit 5-tool player and is putting up MVP numbers this year. He’s the next in line of great Pirate outfielders including Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and some guy named Barry Bonds. I think most Nats fan would stick with Zim here but the potential of McCutchen may sway some voters.
Arguments could be made for Jay Bruce (#12 Cincinnati) and Jacoby Ellsbury (#23 Boston) but lets stick to the three options above.
So what would you do? Vote for your pick in our poll and start the discussion in the comments section below.