Over the past two seasons, Zimmerman has played only 156 games. At the age of 31, having already played 11 seasons of Major League Baseball, Zimmerman’s health is becoming a real concern. He played elite-level defense at third base earlier in his career, but the injuries have taken away his ability to make the throw across the diamond. He is still a smooth enough fielder, but now finds himself playing first base. Zimmerman was hampered by a foot injury for most of the first half last year, and hit only .209/.265/.346 because of it. When he returned in the second half, somewhat healthy, the University of Virginia product slashed .311/.372/.652 with 39 RBIs in 39 games. Unfortunately, an oblique injury ended his season only six games into September.
Duda has basically been a boom-or-bust type of player during his six years in the league. Last year, he batted below .200 for the entire months of June and July before rebounding to bat .304 in August. His August explosion obviously coincided with the arrival of Yoenis Cespedes. Duda cannot be counted on to carry a team for an entire year, but in his hot stretches, his bat can power an offense. He will give you months with .300 hitting and months with .175 hitting in the same year. At the end of the year, if he stays healthy, pencil Duda in for a .250 batting average with 25-30 home runs. He will not hurt you in the field, but as the Royals proved in the World Series, he cannot be asked to do too much defensively.
Counting on Zimmerman to stay healthy for an entire year is a dicey proposition, but if he is able to play 130-140 games this year, he should best Duda offensively and defensively.
The Verdict: Zimmerman