Zobrist heating up offensively at right time for Chicago Cubs

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Ben Zobrist
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Ben Zobrist /

Ben Zobrist’s bat is hot, and the timing could not be better for the Chicago Cubs and their playoff aspirations.

As the old saying goes, it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. This is particularly the case for Ben Zobrist and really, the 2017 Chicago Cubs as a whole.

While the Cubs went 43-45 in the first-half, Zobrist’s .214 average, .307 OBP, .367 SLG and .673 OPS were nothing to write home about. In fact, Zobrist’s numbers were all below current league averages.

Zobrist and Cubs improvements have come hand-in-hand

Like the Cubs’ post-All-Star-break record, though, Zobrist has steadily improved at the plate. His second half average (.277), OBP (.365), SLG (.416) and OPS (.781) have all drastically improved. Meanwhile, the Cubs have gone 37-21 over the same stretch of time, taking over first place in the NL Central standings.

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Zobrist’s post-break numbers are impressive as is, but are even more impressive the more they get broken down. In June (10 games) and July (21 games), he hit a measly .132 and .208, respectively. In August (27 games) he hit .280, while he has hit .333 in 11 September games.

On the one hand, Zobrist was dealing with a sore left wrist early on in the season. Zobrist, a switch-hitter, was forced to bat strictly left-handed because of the injury. He eventually landed on the 10-day DL and was inactive from June 16 through July 1.

Wrist injury is gone, Zobrist offensive production back

Zobrist’s wrist injury without a doubt is to blame for his early-season struggles. One player is not to blame for how inconsistent the Cubs started the season offensively. However, it seems obvious that the Cubs missed Zobrist’s consistent, successful presence at the plate.

With 16 games left in the season, the Cubs’ record stands at 80-66. The lead the NL Central entering Friday, 3.0 games ahead of both the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.

At this point in the season, every game counts, especially considering the Cubs will play the Cardinals seven more times and the Brewers four more times. In fact, the Cardinals and Cubs will open a three-game series at Wrigley Field Friday.

Ultimately, there might not be a direct correlation between Zobrist’s hot bat and the Cubs winning games. While his production is beneficial to the team, baseball is a team game, one that requires contributions up-and-down the roster to win.

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Correlation or not, though, Zobrist has turned things up offensively at a critical juncture in the Cubs’ season. His added production can only help the team succeed, especially considering he brings it from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitter.

If the trend continues, Zobrist could be just what the doctor ordered for the Cubs’ offense as they push for the playoffs.

*Stats as of 9/14