BEN ZOBRISTIF/OF, Chicago Cubs
At 37 years young, Chicago Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist proved to still be a valuable asset all over the diamond and especially with a bat in his hands.
After a dreadful 2017 season, many thought that Ben Zobrist‘s days were numbered. After all, as we all know, father time always gets the last laugh – and that certainly appeared to be the case with the Chicago Cubs veteran.
But after last season, where he hit just .232, the 2016 World Series MVP bounced back, hitting .305, which was good for sixth in the National League. He quietly had one of the better seasons of all the Cub hitters and seemingly one of the few who benefited from the teachings of one-and-done hitting coach, Chili Davis.
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He was quietly perhaps one of the most important Cub players during this season, as the team battled countless injuries throughout which resulted in never really seeing a fully healthy squad on the field.
With so many holes to fill, the veteran Zobrist once again stepped up to fill any void that the Cubs needed. He helped overcome the offensive inconsistencies in the order to provide the Cubs with a sharp bat in the lineup.
A match made in heaven
Despite his best days behind him, Zobrist remains a perfect match for the Cubs, let alone any ball club, due to his extreme versatility. His versatility saw Zobi-Wan play five different positions and bat in seven different spots in the lineup. By being able to plug him anywhere on the field or the lineup, he’s the ultimate flex guy.
The role suits him well as, without the workload of an everyday player, he can be able to take much-needed off-days to rest his old bones and fill in wherever and whenever needed.
That being said, with so many question marks heading into the offseason, Zobrist could still probably handle a larger workload and take over a more solidified role at second base next season, the final year of his four-year deal he signed in 2016.
Without the Cubs committing to a reunion with Daniel Murphy quite yet and the up-in-the-air cloud that surrounds disgraced infielder Addison Russell, Zobrist may see more playing time and even wind up being the Cubs’ everyday second baseman going into the 2019 season.
His 2018 season was a testament that Zobrist can still contribute at the plate as he showed his capability and dedication to making the proper adjustments to better his skills and working on his weaknesses.
Sabermetrics can back up the importance of having Zobrist in the Cubs lineup, as he ended the season with an on-base percentage of .378 and owning a 3.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which was second on the team behind only likely MVP runner-up, Javier Baez.
As a batter who walks nearly as much as he’ll strike out, Zobrist is always a key piece to the Cubs offense as he provides quality at-bats to fuel other player’s productivity for the likes of other players such as Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant.
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Whatever his role is in 2019, perhaps his swan song season as a Chicago Cub, he will most certainly be the impact versatile veteran and clubhouse leader who will continue to make the proper adjustments. He has always been known to do so in the past and, once again, proved he will do what it takes to win in any and all capacities.