Chicago Cubs: Five players who will regress in 2017

Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

Ben Zobrist

2016 stats: .272, 18 HR, 76 RBI

Ben Zobrist is playing the role of a super-utility man for the Cubs in 2017. He will play second base, left field, and right field. Zobrist is use to playing all over the diamond, but that could hurt him in 2017.

With Javier Baez slated to get more playing time, and Albert Almora coming along in the outfield, Zobrist could become the odd man out in Chicago. It’s crazy to say that about the 2016 World Series MVP, but the 35-year-old may start feeling his age in 2017.

Last season, Zobrist bounced back from a 1.9 WAR season in 2015 to a 3.8 WAR season in 2016. Despite that rise in WAR, Zobrist’s strikeout rate increased from 11.9% in 2015 to 15.7% in 2016. While that may not seem like a big deal, any rise in strikeout rate is not a good sign.

Zobrist clubbed the third most home runs in a season in his career in 2016 with 18. He has jumped out to a quick start in 2017 by hitting two so far but expect Zobrist to cool off some as the season moves forward.

Zobrist has a career .358 OBP. In 2016, Zobrist recorded a .386 mark, which was the second highest of his career. That number will be hard to beat in 2017, but Zobrist should remain a good on-base guy, just not at the level he was at in 2016.

Some of the younger guys will cut into Zobrist’s playing time in 2017. His ability to play all over the place will help keep him in the line-up, but he is 35 years old, and it remains to be seen how that will affect him in 2017.