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Healthy Zim shows no signs of slowing down

Nationals slugger belts 16th homer, leads NL Triple Crown categories
MLB.com @JamalCollier

OAKLAND -- The Nationals believed Ryan Zimmerman was due for a bounce-back season, but perhaps not even the most optimistic of projections could have predicted the sort of incredible season he is having right now.

He collected three more hits Sunday afternoon, including a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning of Sunday's 11-10 victory in Oakland. It was his 16th home run of the season in his 53rd game, already surpassing his total from 2016 when he hit 15 in 115 games.

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OAKLAND -- The Nationals believed Ryan Zimmerman was due for a bounce-back season, but perhaps not even the most optimistic of projections could have predicted the sort of incredible season he is having right now.

He collected three more hits Sunday afternoon, including a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning of Sunday's 11-10 victory in Oakland. It was his 16th home run of the season in his 53rd game, already surpassing his total from 2016 when he hit 15 in 115 games.

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In fact, it's the most homers Zimmerman has hit in any season since he hit 26 homers in 2013. Washington just played its 55th game Sunday.

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"This guy was a premier player before," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "I don't think people understand -- this game is tough enough to play healthy. When you're hurt, it's doubly tough. Your mind plays tricks on you, wondering about this and that, and if doubt and any kind of thing sets in, as a player, you're struggling."

Zimmerman is now hitting .374/.421/.713 with 48 RBIs and currently leads the National League in all three Triple Crown categories.

He has continually pointed to health as the biggest contributor to his career renaissance, after three consecutive disappointing and injury-filled seasons punctuated by the worst year of his career in 2016. But he thought he was poised for a rebound this season after he was able to complete an entire offseason without rehabbing an injury or taking care of any nagging pains.

Even through his continued success this season, Zimmerman said he has continued to make adjustments at the plate in order to keep the pace going.

"I think it's always an evolving process," he said. "That's the hardest part, because you play so many games and play for so long, to stay going like you were going. But [hitting coaches Rick Schu and Jacque Jones] and all of us do a good job. And the players, we talk as well. A lot of us have been around for a long time to the point where we can talk to each other and see things. That helps us, too."

And it's allowed Zimmerman to keep that incredible pace for the entire season with little sign of cooling down. He extended his hitting streak to eight games Sunday, and he is hitting .438 with three homers and nine RBIs during that span. This was his 23rd multi-hit game of the season and ninth three-hit game.

"It's amazing," right-hander Shawn Kelley said. "You think first few weeks, all right, he's coming out hot. And then it's like a month, then it's like, golly, if he does this all year, that's going to be fun to watch."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman