After struggling mightily last season, many believed it marked the beginning of the end for Chicago Cubs veteran Ben Zobrist. Instead, he silenced us all.
Last season, Ben Zobrist had one of his worst statistical seasons for a variety of reasons, mostly due to injury. Entering the 2018 campaign at age 37, many, myself included, believed a decline for the super-utility man was inevitable. Instead the Chicago Cubs’ Swiss army knife put together an impressive bounce-back campaign showing he has plenty of gas left in the tank.
I thought after Ben Zobrist posted a .232 batting average in 2017, the lowest of his career, the writing was on the wall. It appeared he could no longer stay healthy and stay on the field with old age catching up to him. Zobrist sure had me (and a lot of other people) fooled.
This season, Zobrist has been like a fine wine, only playing better with age. The fun-loving vet has come back to lead the Chicago Cubs in both batting average and on-base percentage.
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The Eureka, Ill. native is batting a remarkable .310 at the plate, his first time batting .300 since 2015. For a 37-year-old, the average batting average in the league is .265 and Zobrist is batting 45 points above that. Not too shabby, eh?
Zobrist has simply been a hitting machine for the Cubs this season. He’s recorded 26 multi-hit games, two of which were four-hit performances. Zobrist even went 2-for-2 with a home run in Sunday’s loss to the Padres coming off the bench in the seventh inning.
He has also done a great job setting the table for the Cubs. He’s posted an on-base percentage of .395 which is his best since back in 2009. It’s led to Zobrist scoring 52 runs for the Cubs, which is the third-most on the team.
Zobrist has been drinking from the Fountain of Youth
To measure just how important Zobrist has been to this Cubs team he has a WAR of 2.9. Aside from Javier Baez, that’s the highest on the Cubs. Last season, Zobrist was only able to muster a WAR of 0.3. That’s a night and day difference – that much is clear.
Quite frankly it’s hard to imagine where the Cubs would be without Zobrist’s return to form this season. Baez has taken a huge step forward into the team MVP conversation and Anthony Rizzo seems to have found his groove lately but, aside from them, many of the Cubs have struggled.
Even in his limited playing time, he has been a constant catalyst for the Cubs offense this season. If the Cubs hope to make another deep playoff push, they will continue to lean on contributions from ole’ faithful himself, Ben Zobrist.