Baker: Zim swinging bat at 'Bonds-like' pace

Baker: Zim swinging bat at 'Bonds-like' pace

PHILADELPHIA -- As Dusty Baker watched Ryan Zimmerman continue his scorching start at the plate in Saturday's 6-2 victory over the Phillies, it reminded Baker of another player he used to manage.

"That's Bonds-like," Baker said. As in Barry Bonds.

It's a comparison that Baker does not hand out lightly. However, Zimmerman continues to amaze in his incredible start to the season for the Nationals. On Saturday, he hit his 13th home run, which tied the Yankees' Aaron Judge for the Major League lead, hit an RBI double and hit another ball 406 feet before it was caught at the wall by Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera.

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Zimmerman has homered in 12 of the Nationals' first 30 games and he has notched 16 multi-hit games, including eight of his last nine games. He is hitting .435 with a .907 slugging percentage -- higher than any of Bonds' career bests -- and owns a 1.382 OPS.

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"He continues to stay on the ball," Baker said. "He's stayed hot for an extremely long period of time. ... This is as good a start as anybody I've ever seen."

Zimmerman has been a bit reluctant to talk about his hot start, chalking it up to the fact that he is healthy for the first time in years. And he has not taken the time to reflect on what has been the best stretch of his career.

"I think in the middle of it, you're playing a game every day," he said. "You just want to keep with your routine, keep doing your work, and go out there every day and not think about it."

Zimmerman's RBI double

Baker said Zimmerman is likely to receive a day off in Sunday's series finale against the Phillies, signaling his commitment to keeping Zimmerman healthy and productive for a full season. Injuries had robbed Zimmerman from ever getting into a groove during the previous three seasons and he has been worth 0.0 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference.

"He hits balls up in the zone, down in the zone," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He hits breaking balls. He has a real good swing path, a real good approach at the plate."

That replacement-level player from the past three years is experiencing a career resurgence; he has already been worth 2.2 WAR in 2017 before Saturday's performance.

"I've never seen a hitter over an extended period of time like this be that consistent with barreling the ball," right-hander Jacob Turner said. "Even the outs he's making are smoked. I've never seen somebody be that locked in."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.