Nats’ Ryan Zimmerman retires from MLB a champion and DC icon

Ryan Zimmerman receives a standing ovation during his final game with the Nationals

Since the Nationals moved to D.C. in 2005, there has been no player more associated with both the organization’s highs and lows than Ryan Zimmerman. The 2005 No. 4 overall pick has played all 1,799 of his career regular-season games for Washington and on Tuesday announced there would not be an 1,800th.

Zimmerman, 37, officially retired from baseball after 16 seasons. He was the Nationals’ first draft pick as a franchise, made his MLB debut three months later and stuck around for good. Zimmerman holds Nationals/Expos franchise records for games played, hits (1,846), home runs (284), RBIs (1,061) and runs scored (963). He started his career as a third baseman and won a Gold Glove there in 2009 before a shoulder injury hindered his throwing motion and forced him to move over to first.

“Mr. National” burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2006, finishing second to Hanley Ramírez in NL Rookie of the Year voting. He was a bright spot for an organization that averaged 93 losses per year from 2006-11. But from there, the Nationals turned in eight consecutive winning seasons, including a World Series run in 2019 with Zimmerman as their starting first baseman.

In addition to his Gold Glove, Zimmerman’s career accolades include two Silver Sluggers, two All-Star appearances and four seasons in which he received down-ballot NL MVP votes. His best season came in 2017, when he hit .303 with 36 home runs, 108 RBIs and a .930 OPS at 32 years old. During the 2019 title run, he hit .255 with two historic home runs — one that kept the Nationals’ title hopes alive in Game 4 of the NLDS and another that represented the franchise’s first-ever World Series home run.


After opting out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Zimmerman returned last year as a part-time player behind starting first baseman Josh Bell. Nationals fans gave Zimmerman a standing ovation during his final game, which was Oct. 3 against the Boston Red Sox.

With Zimmerman retired, the Nationals will turn to Bell to take on an even greater share of the starts at first base this season. Bell appeared in 144 games for Washington last year, hitting .261 with 27 home runs and an .823 OPS.