Zobrist and OBP

More Twitter giveback. This time from Ramedy. The topic: Ben Zobrist’s on-baseness.

The 2009 season was unusual for Ben Zobrist. He started the season in a super-sub and pinch-hitting capacity where he become synonymous with extra base hits late in games – earning the nickname “Late Inning Lightning” from Tommy Rancel. As the season shifted and Akinori Iwamura was injured, he took over at second base and made the All-Star game in part because of his power and in part because of his ridiculous defense. The entire Rays’ infield (minus catcher) actually made the All-Star game despite finishing the year in third place; Zobrist basically led the Light Brigade.

In 2010 that power is all but gone. Ben Zobrist walked in 13.7% of his first half plate appearances. He held a .113 ISO. Of the 15 batters with higher walk rates only two had ISO below .150 (little blue pill Chipper Jones and Daric Barton) and none below .120. That’s not to say Zobrist is some endangered species of bird; Ian Kinsler has nearly identical figures and Chone Figgins isn’t far off with far less power. It is to say it would be no surprise if the March of Dimes began sponsoring Zobrist’s Baseball-Reference page.

That ability to get on base has kept Zobrist amongst the Rays’ most valuable hitters. His .362 wOBA is third behind only AL MVP candidate Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria — just ahead of a similar batter in John Jaso. He’s still playing tremendous defense at second and right field. He even filled in at center for a span, although he looked rather out of place and only his athleticism allowed him to overcome some rather putrid routes.

Despite the solid walk rate, Zobrist has actually expanded his zone this year. He’s offering at pitches out of the zone more often than before and while is contact rate has actually improved, it’s up to anyone’s guess whether the increased willingness to fish is residual from his power show or simply Zobrist being more aggressive because he felt the pitch was hittable.

Regardless, coming off a season where he looks destined to receive his own collection of Louisville Slugger advertisements, Zobrist has proven he’s a hopeless romantic who enjoys 90 foot walks on paved dirt and that’s enough to make Rays’ fans swoon.

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13 years ago

I’m assuming his lack of power is David Wright syndrome?

All the rest of his numbers other than home runs are on par(or better) to the last two season.