As you all know, Ben Zobrist looked really close to retirement after last season’s slump at the plate for the 36-year old. He was not making contact off the bat, he had a career low as a starter for on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He simply was just not the World Series MVP we saw the season before. In 4 games this season, Ben Zobrist has shown stability early into this season.
In 14 plate appearances, Zobrist has converted 4 hits, 3 walks, and 1 RBI to just one strikeout. Zobrist overall is batting .364 from the plate which is a huge difference. While his contact rate was significantly lower in 2017, Zobrist has improved it to 90.9% which would be on pace for a career-best. He has also become more patient at the plate with a 21.4% walk percentage, significantly higher from 2017. It is also worth noting that Zobrist’s batting average on balls in play has also increased to .400 which you guessed it, is on pace for a new career-high.
Now it is not customary to base numbers on just 4 games and 14 plate appearances, but Zobrist did not look this sharp through the first four games last season. It took him 24 games to just reach a batting average over .230 which will still abnormally low for his career. These early numbers showing great strides from Zobrist in 4 games this season could be translating over to a great regular season performance.
Cubs skipper Joe Maddon has already praised Zobrist this year for producing quality numbers, saying he wants “Cubs hitters to learn from Ben Zobrist’s quality at-bats”.
“Coming out of camp, I was a little concerned,” Maddon said. “We talked about it. He said, ‘I’ll let you know.’ He agreed he wasn’t quite there yet, but that performance in Miami looked pretty sharp to me.”
Now Ben Zobrist obviously isn’t going to win the MVP award or anything of that nature, but he can become the most improved player in baseball with the noticeable difference of this year and last. Zobrist has regained power after a wrist injury which is extremely uncommon, and especially for a player at his age. Maybe this is the start of something big for Zobrist over his final two seasons under contract. Zobrist is definitely the Cub to keep an eye out for this season as a potential every day starter to come.