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Mailbag: Is Zimmerman an elite slugger?

Mailbag: Zimmerman's production

Entering Tuesday's action against the Mets, the Nationals are 56-88, and fans want to know what the team can do to get better. Here are some answers to some of their questions.

Is Ryan Zimmerman a .290 hitter and a 30-homer, 100-RBI guy or am I expecting too much?
-- Tony L., Amelia, Va.

No, you are not expecting too much. In fact, what I expect from Zimmerman is much higher than your numbers. He is aware of it, too. I see batting and RBI titles in his future. I think he can be a 30-30 player if manager Manny Acta gave him the chance to steal bases. Of course, I want to see more bunting from him. To me, Zimmerman is a complete player.

Do you think the play at the plate involving Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Nationals catcher Jesus Flores was a dirty play?
-- Brendan W., Montclair, Va.

I have mixed emotions about the play. The collision reminded me of when Royals designated hitter Hal McRae hammered Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph in the 1977 American League Championship Series -- I thought that particular play was dirty. I understand what Utley was trying to do, but he flew into Flores, and I thought that was unfair.

The fact that you compared Adam Dunn to Dave Kingman is, frankly, way off the mark. Try looking at on-base percentage instead of average. Dunn is a beast. He would be able to play first base just fine.
-- Jon, N., D.C.

I received a lot of angry e-mails about the comparison. But none have mentioned that Dunn strikes out too much, and he is not a good defensive player. Dunn is not in the same class as Nick Johnson defensively. If the Nationals are going to spend money this offseason, spend it on a complete player. If Dunn was that good, the Reds would have kept him.

Will Larry Broadway be getting a September callup? Don't you think it's about time the Nationals' front office gave him a chance on the big stage?
-- Dyer T., Sanches, N.M.

I'm probably one of the few people in America who believes Broadway will be a successful Major Leaguer. It will never happen with the Nationals, though, because he doesn't have enough power. He will be a free agent after the season and sign somewhere else.

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With Shawn Hill out for the season, is it possible we might see him move to the bullpen next season and beyond?
-- Mike H., Washington D.C.

That's a good question. I think the Nationals still look at him as a starter. I don't see him as a reliever. By the time he is ready to pitch, the Nationals most likely will have their bullpen set.

Given all of the injuries this season, and the youth of this team, I think Acta has done a masterful job keeping the players on an even keel. There have been no explosive temper tantrums that I know of and the team seems to remain positive on the field.
-- John B., Burke, Va.

I totally agree with you about Acta. When it came close to All-Star break, I thought someone on the team would explode and blame the media for the bad season. But once general manager Jim Bowden traded reliever Jon Rauch to the Diamondbacks, I felt the team would be on an even keel the rest of the season.

Why haven't the Nationals given Willie Harris a full-time position? He is doing a great job offensively and defensively.
-- Carrick H., Falls Church, Va.

There is no doubt Harris is having a productive season, but I believe the team still sees him as an excellent backup. I could be wrong, but I don't see Harris as an everyday player for Washington next season.

How about Emilio Bonifacio? Do you think he will be a legit leadoff hitter in the future for the Nats?
-- Patrick, Fairfax, Va.

It's too early for that to happen. I love the way he plays second base and how he hits from the left side of the plate. I believe he needs to improve dramatically from the right side of the plate in order to be productive as a leadoff hitter.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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