Coming into this season, I was unsure of Chicago Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist. With his back issue chiming in early along with last year’s numbers, I didn’t think he had much left. I was wrong.
This season, it’s been a tough go of it for Chicago Cubs’ fans. We’re 2-3, and the team just hasn’t looked good at the plate. Now, it’s only five games in and the Cubs have plenty of time to turn things around. Of that much, I’m sure. Another thing that I’m confident in? Ben Zobrist needs to get more playing time, wherever it may be.
When Zobrist came to the Cubs two seasons ago, he was supposed to “lock in” to second base, putting his utility player days behind him. But I guess he should have known, that’s hard to do when you play for Joe Maddon. Last season, Zobrist played right and left field, second base, shortstop and first base. This season, he’s taken more ground balls at first base–and that could be an excellent thing for Maddon
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A hot start to the season
So far in four games, Zobrist is off to a .365 start (4-for-14) with three walks and a strikeout. Singular. Just one. While Ian Happ wowed us all with his leadoff home run on the first pitch of the season, he’s missed the mark since.
He’s batting just .125 (2-for-18) with a team-leading 10 whiffs. With Albert Almora Jr. scuffling as well, I ask, what about Zobrist?
Is he meant for the leadoff spot?
Initially, he was part of the three-headed monster for the leadoff position. But with his back issues keeping him out of spring initially–and Happ’s ridiculous spring–it was already set. Happ would be the guy. For one glorious at-bat, it looked like Maddon had found his man. But how quickly that evaporated.
So with Happ struggling and Almora not looking much better, it’s time to give Zobrist a go. The man simply does not strike out. And when you see that he’s a player that strikes out just a few more times than he walks, why is this even a thought?
Zobrist needs to leadoff, at least occasionally. While Happ and Almora have fought to get things going, Zo seems to have things on a roll. His body might not be able to go day in, day out. He’s 37 years old, I would expect him too. But for as much as he can, Zobrist needs to be at the top of the lineup.