Jordan Zimmerman's big bat making an impact for MSU baseball
If you ask the average baseball fanatic about Jordan Zimmerman, they will probably tell you about the 6-foot-2 all-star righty who signed with the Detroit Tigers earlier in the offseason. But if you ask any fan of MSU baseball about Jordan Zimmerman, you’ll get a completely different answer.
During the offseason, MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. recruited one of the biggest offensive tools that the Spartans have seen in quite a while. That player is current Spartan infielder and junior transfer student Jordan Zimmerman.
Where he came from
Zimmerman is native to Mesa, Ariz. — approximately 1,937 miles away from MSU’s campus. He went to Red Mountain High School and after that Zimmerman went to play baseball for Mesa Community College. In 61 games his freshman season, Zimmerman hit .378 and knocked in 49 RBI’s to help the Thunderbirds win the 2014 NJCAA Division II World Series against Hinds Community College.
As a sophomore, Zimmerman shined yet again, hitting .396 with the Thunderbirds and posting a 1.046 OPS in his second-year campaign.
After two successful seasons with Mesa, Boss and his recruiting staff caught wind of Zimmerman’s offensive upside and gave him an offer to play for the Spartans. One thing led to another and now Zimmerman is leading the Spartan offense.
With the Spartans
Through his first 20 games with the green and white this season, Zimmerman is leading the Spartans in many statistical categories batting in the heart of MSU’s lineup.
The 6-foot-1 infielder is currently hitting .438, with 33 total hits, 24 runs scored, 16 RBI’s, 13 walks, nine stolen bases and a 1.176 OPS. Zimmerman is leading the team in each of those categories and even ranks among some of the top in the Big Ten.
His .438 average leads the conference, and his .526 on base percentage ranks among the top in the Big Ten. Zimmerman’s 24 runs scored is also tied for the league-lead.
“He’s a very mature hitter, a very athletic guy,” Boss Jr. said. “He hits for average, he hits for power, he runs well ... so that’s why we recruited him.”
Zimmerman’s performance from the plate this season has helped lead the Spartans to a conference-best 18-3 overall record — including a 14-1 record to start the year, the best in school history. As a team this year, MSU is hitting .325, which ranks second best in the conference behind Minnesota and 12th in the nation.
On top of all this, Zimmerman has also shown versatility. Zimmerman started 14 games at second base to start the season, but ever since sophomore first baseman Alex Troop has been sidelined with an injury Zimmerman has started four games at first for MSU.
Zimmerman is also riding a 14-game hitting streak, spanning all the way back to March 5, when the Spartans claimed a 3-0 victory against Auburn in the Pensacola Cox Diamond Invitational.
Adjusting quite nicely
One of the biggest question marks about Zimmerman coming into the season was how he was going to adjust from Division II junior college competition to playing against some of the most dominant teams in the country in the Big Ten. The numbers Zimmerman has posted so far this season, you can say he answered back with a bold exclamation point.
Another adjustment the Mesa native had to make was getting used to playing in the unpredictable Michigan climate. Zimmerman got a taste of the bitter cold during a few offseason practices, but didn’t really feel the effects of playing in the cold until MSU played their first home game of the season against Central Michigan University on March 23 — 18 games into the regular season.
“It was cold, it was miserable out there,” Zimmerman said. “But mentally you’ve just got to overcome it and know that you have to stick to a game plan.”
Other than that, Zimmerman has fit in nicely with the Spartans off the field as well. At practice, teammates often refer to him as “Zim-Shady” — a nickname that possibly arose from his similar appearance to Eminem back when he had blonde hair. Zimmerman has accepted his nickname and jokingly enough made his walk-up song "My Name Is" by Eminem.
On the field, Zimmerman plays with hustle, personality and swagger — a lethal combination that appears to be a recipe for success. Zimmerman’s style of play even has even rubbed off on other Spartans.
“I really try to bring a little bit of a spark to the game,” Zimmerman said. “Whether that’s hitting a home run or getting our team going. If they want to feed off me they can, but I hope they see me as a role model or someone they can feed off of.”
Although he plays with confidence on the field, Zimmerman prefers to lead by example rather than by word of mouth. Zimmerman has developed into a low-profile leadership role and he prefers his bat to do all the talking for him.
“He’s definitely one of our leaders,” junior outfielder Taylor Grace said. “Especially for being a junior and transferring over and stuff like that. He’s taken quite a big role and he’s definitely proven himself.
“Zimmerman is just a great player,”Grace said. “I mean, he gets along with everybody, we never have any problems. He does what he needs to do on the field, and I’ll tell you what — he’s destined to go somewhere, that’s for sure.”