Chicago Cubs: Father Time finally catches up with Ben Zobrist

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The multifaceted veteran took a step back after coming in clutch in 2016.

They say Father Time is undefeated. That no matter how useful or good someone is, the years will always catch up to them. After avoiding it his entire career, it looks like age has finally caught up with Chicago Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist.

The utility man’s 2017 was mired with inconsistency, injury and overall ineffectiveness. Hitting just .232/.318/.375, Zobrist was among many Cubs who took a step back after a magical 2016 season.

Not many things went right for Zobrist. He walked less, struck out more and made contact less frequently. Zo also played in 19 less games due to injury and just plain ineffectiveness. He also didn’t fare well in the playoffs, hitting .154.

Next year will be his age 37 season. With two more years left on his contract, can the Cubs count on him to contribute like he did in 2016? While not likely, it is possible.

More from Cubbies Crib

Is the injury the difference?

To Zo’s credit, he did have a nagging wrist injury during the summer that didn’t heal like he had hoped. Perhaps playing through an injury contributed to his putrid numbers? Maybe, but one can’t deny that he looked his age this season after playing like at an All-Star level in 2016.

To be fair, no one thought Zobrist would play at a high level during all four years of his contract. What Theo Epstein and co. hoped was he’d be a Swiss Army knife-type utility player Coach Maddon could deploy anywhere on the field, whilst also providing decent offense and leadership qualities.

While all that culminated in a World Series victory – and MVP for Zobrist – things are trending down for the veteran. What’s worse, unless the team can find a trading partner, Zobrist will likely get his fair share of reps since they’re paying him all that money.

Giving playing time to an established veteran isn’t the worst thing in the world, but when you have players like Javy Báez and Ian Happ – young players who need experience – you’d rather have Zo on the bench more often than not.

It’s possible Zobrist bounces back in 2018. After all he is a great player who had injuries last season that surely hampered him at times. However the future looks grim. If I was Maddon, I’d talk to Zobrist about a more minor role moving forward. Being that the latter just isn’t getting it done as of late, it’s more than reasonable.

Next: Economical targets on the free agent market this winter

The Cubs couldn’t have won the World Series without Zobrist. But reality has set in, and it looks like he’ll no longer be a consistent offensive threat. 2017 couldn’t have gone much worse for the veteran, and unless 2018 gets better, he may not play out his initial four-year deal.