Chicago Cubs: Can Zobrist defy Father Time again in 2019?
After veteran infielder, Ben Zobrist turned in one of the worst seasons of his career in 2017, more than a few folks felt it was the beginning of the end. At 36 years old and coming off the wear and tear that came with playing into November during the Cubs’ World Series run, he battled injuries and failed to produce when he was on the diamond.
Zobrist put up a 79 OPS+, the worst single-season mark of his 12-year big league career, hit just .232 and managed a measly .318 on-base percentage, a far cry from what we’d come to expect from him. Those aforementioned injuries limited the Eureka, Illinois native to 128 games and, heading into 2018, no one was sure what to expect from him.
But right out of the gate last season, Zobrist made one thing abundantly clear: he had a lot left in the tank to offer the club. He appeared in 139 games, slashing .305/.378/.440 for the Cubs, hitting .330 in the second half as the majority of his teammates’ bats went ice-cold.
Given Addison Russell‘s suspension and Javier Baez‘s subsequent shift back over to shortstop, Zobrist currently projects as Chicago’s Opening Day second baseman. That hardly comes as a surprise – but don’t be surprised to see guys like Ian Happ or newcomer Daniel Descalso get reps there, as well.
The one thing that’s made Ben Zobrist career so remarkable has been his unfailing consistency. Despite heading into his age-38 campaign, I expect more of the same in 2019. Maddon is familiar enough with his veteran to know when he needs a blow and I suspect that will help keep him fresh all season long.