Brandon Marsh needs to sit for about two weeks with a sprained ankle thanks to his awkward fall in center field, which means the Phillies are suddenly a little thin in outfield depth. Having nothing much in the minor leagues, they went outside the organization and grabbed a center fielder.
The Phillies have claimed OF Bradley Zimmer off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. To make room for Zimmer, OF Bryce Harper was transferred to the 60-day IL and OF Brandon Marsh was placed on the 10-day IL with a left ankle sprain (retro to 8/17).— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 18, 2022
You, being the educated fan, know that putting Harper on the 60-day injured list is merely a move to open up a 40-man roster spot, hence your lack of fear at the move. No, this is about having a body in the outfield until either Marsh or Harper is able to come back healthy enough to overtake Zimmer’s roster spot.
Until then, what exactly have the Phillies gotten in Zimmer? Let’s fire up the Baseball Reference machine and check the ol’ stat lin—
(2022): .105/.209/.237 in 87 plate appearances, 28 OPS+, -0.2 bWAR
Oh. Oh my.
Folks, there isn’t really any other way to say it than Zimmer isn’t know for his bat. If you’re looking for a silver lining there, it’s that he’s left handed, has hit right handed pitching at least somewhat well over his career and is able to at least stand in the batter’s box right now. That’s something! Under the hood, he’s still hitting the ball on the ground more than 50% of the time, something that usually leads to outs in this day and age of shifting, so maybe for these next few weeks, the team can get him to lift the ball a bit more in the time he does spend at the plate. His average exit velocity of 88.5 miles per hour is actually not altogether horrible, so there might be something to work with here.
What’s interesting is that as bad as that stat line is, he’s still just a few tics below 0.0 for his bWAR number.
Why, you ask?
That’s because Zimmer can actually go get it in center field. He’s fast (95th percentile in sprint speed), which enables him to handle the green expanse reasonably well. Last year in center field for Cleveland, he registered +5 OAA for the team, an impressive amount even if his bat didn’t help the team very much. He’s not going to be asked to carry the offense, but more than likely continue the play that Marsh has given them on defense.
Adding Zimmer isn’t going to light the world on fire, but putting him in a platoon with Matt Vierling. well, there could be worse plans for the team.