Jordan Zimmermann is awesome! I realize this isn't breaking news, but he's so awesome that he's earned the distinction of being a very favorite player of mine.
So you'll understand where I'm coming from, I should explain that most Nationals players are my favorite players. I cheer with enthusiasm for pretty much everyone on the roster, somewhat regardless of talent level, as long as they give at least 100 percent. Yes, I get frustrated with guys. I may even boo a bad play or groan when certain players are used in certain situations (cough, Matt Stairs pinch hitting). But if you're on my team, there's a good chance you're a favorite player.
A very small number of players have earned the distinction of being either not my favorite or very favorite players. Usually, it takes an attitude problem to end up in the not-my-favorite category, although a certain relief pitcher (no longer with the Nationals) was an exception. I don't know about his attitude, but this guy took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to pitch and missed the plate a lot. He was not my favorite.
In theory, any player could become a very favorite, but few do. Being a very favorite is about working and playing hard, being a good teammate, loving baseball and having something special.
Jordan Zimmermann is special.
Sure, it's partly his 3.00 ERA in 19 starts this year and the fact that hasn't walked many guys (1.6 BB/9) or given up many dingers (0.4 HR/9). His WHIP is a respectable 1.083. On May 6, in the second inning of a game against the Florida Marlins, he struck out the side on nine pitches. Another fangirl recently commented that the extra "n" in Zimmermann is for "nasty." I think that's about right.
It's also his no-nonsense, get-the-job-done demeanor. Zimmermann doesn't fart around on the mound. He catches the ball, sets and throws the ball. In the first inning of his major league debut, he threw seven pitches, all strikes. It's rare for him to look even slightly concerned.
The only time I remember seeing anything but workmanlike determination in his posture was at a blood drive in August 2009, a couple of days before the Nationals announced he would need Tommy John surgery. Zimmermann made an appearance at the event, and on that day I saw a quiet young man with concern in his eyes.
During spring training in 2010, I watched Zimmermann watch his teammates. Physically, he wasn't participating fully or playing in games, but he seemed to be taking everything in. When he returned to major leagues in August, just over a year after having Tommy John surgery, it was at the same time impressive and not that surprising.
This year, we're getting a glimpse of Zimmermann's talent and potential, and for the most part he seems the same to me. I'd say he's more confident in postgame interviews, but during the game he just pitches. When he isn't pitching, from my seats near the dugout, he appears to be always watching and taking everything in.
Beyond his pitching, which has been awesome, it is Zimmermann's quiet focus and determination that has drawn me in and earned him the distinction of being a very favorite player.
Jenn Jenson blogs about the Nationals at Nationals Fangirl and has joined MASNsports.com's initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.