- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2017

Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman needed just one home run to become the Nationals’ all-time leader in home runs. As it turned out, he specifically needed 391 feet.

Zimmerman hit a 391-foot bomb Monday against the Cincinnati Reds, giving him his 235th career home run and the most of any player in franchise history, including the Montreal Expos.

He already ranks near the top of many franchise records, but the record encapsulates everything the Nationals could have wanted when they selected him as the team’s first-ever pick in 2005. The home run broke Vladimir Guerrero’s record of 234 home runs.

“Records are made to be broken, congratulations to Ryan Zimmerman,” Guerrero tweeted. “Being No. 2 is not bad.”

Guerrero never played for the Nationals — he signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Anaheim Angels before the 2004 season, the Expos’ final year in Montreal. Zimmerman’s record creates an awkward connection between the memories of a Montreal franchise driven into the ground, and a franchise that has thrived in Washington.

But none of that matters to Zimmerman. The 32-year-old’s resurgence this season makes the record more gratifying. The home run was his 20th of the year, giving him his first 20 home run season since 2013. He has credited his health as a large reason why. 

Zimmerman has played in 83 of 92 games, and the nine missed games have been largely due to rest. His only bump in the road was a minor back injury, causing him to miss three consecutive games in mid-June.

Manager Dusty Baker, though, told reporters in spring training he expected Zimmerman to have a bounce-back year after the veteran hit just .218 last season. Zimmerman has battled injuries each of the previous three years.

Zimmerman, who returned to the All-Star Game this year, is no longer the singular face of the Nationals franchise. Bryce Harper is plastered across ads on the Metro. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are two of the sport’s best pitchers.

These days, you’ll find Zimmerman in the middle of a lethal lineup, with Harper in front of him and Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon behind him.

That lineup made the Reds pay Monday with Harper hitting a 3-run home run directly before Zimmerman.

For the pitch itself, Zimmerman sent a first-pitch 86.2 mile per hour sinker from the Reds‘ Scott Feldman to left center field.

It was his first home run in over a month, when he hit two against the Atlanta Braves on June 13. Still, after Zimmerman waited so long to be fully healthy again and hitting 235 home runs over the course of 13 seasons, a month between home runs was hardly a wait at all.

Zimmerman’s franchise records in progress:

Home runs (first with 235)

Doubles (tied for first with 360)

RBI (second with 892)

Runs (second with 846)

Total bases (second with 2,7095)

Walks (third with 563)

Hits (third with 1,603)

Games (third with 1,490)

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