Since the first organized professional baseball game was held May 4, 1871, there have been 17,594 players to step to the plate at least once in their career. Of those 17,594, only 148 have hit at least 300 home runs and just 21 have done it all for one team.
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is 30 homers away from becoming the 22nd player to achieve the feat, but he may be running out of time. After the coronavirus outbreak halted spring training and forced the postponement of Opening Day, his chances of reaching the mark in 2020 waned.
That wouldn't be too much of an issue for a younger player with a better injury history. However, Zimmerman is 35 years old and has played a full season only once over the past six years. In the April 30 installment of his diary series with the Associated Press, the veteran infielder emphasized that he's taking things on a year-by-year basis.
"A lot of people were saying, ‘You could have gone somewhere else [last offseason] and gotten a two-year deal.' Things like that," Zimmerman wrote. "I obviously didn't want to go anywhere else. And I also didn't want a multi-year deal. I'm at the point now where it's kind of nice to be able to see where things stand each year and go from there."
Zimmerman added that if the season were to be called off, he would "definitely plan on playing" in 2021. Yet league officials have expressed optimism that some form of shortened season will be played this year, with reports indicating that teams could play around 100 games each before taking part in an expanded playoff bracket.
That means 2020 could very well be Zimmerman's final year in the majors. Hitting 30 home runs would be a tall task for him in any season-expecting him to do it in 100 games would be quixotic. He's only achieved the feat twice in his career, most recently doing so during his 2017 All-Star campaign.
Even if he does play for two more years, Zimmerman would need to stay healthy and receive consistent playing time if he's going to hit 300. Various injuries have limited him to 137 games (and 19 home runs) over the last two years, putting pressure on him to stay healthy enough to stay on the active roster.
That doesn't even factor in the offseason signings of Eric Thames and Howie Kendrick, which paint a muddled picture at first base. Zimmerman and Thames are natural platoon partners, but there's no guarantee manager Davey Martinez plans to use them that way.
Zimmerman doesn't appear to be too focused on hitting that 300 mark. He's already the franchise leader in home runs and pretty much every other counting statistic. True to his character, Zimmerman's reasons for playing revolve more around the health of his body and level of appreciation for the game.
"My body feels unbelievable right now," Zimmerman told AP. "Not having to go through the grind of a season, but still working out. I kind of envision myself being that way when I'm done playing: Still being active and staying in shape but not necessarily doing what we do every single day to get ready for a game.
"Going the other way, though, being home and not being able to even go to the field -- you don't realize how much you love it until it's gone. In that sense, this time has made me realize how lucky I am to play the game."
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Has the coronavirus prevented Ryan Zimmerman from hitting 300 homers? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington