Rays News

5 Misconceptions About Ben Zobrist From Around Baseball

By Robbie Knopf
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Sep 8, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist (18) turns the double play with Seattle Mariners shortstop

Brad Miller

(5) sliding into 2nd base during the 1st inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

1. Ben Zobrist Is Not Just a Second Baseman

It has thoroughly surprised me the way that some people have compartmentalized the aspects of Zobrist’s game in their minds. Whenever we hear “Ben Zobrist,” the first thing we think about is “super-utility player.” However, even though many articles have begun by talking about Zobrist’s versatility, many then only talk about him as a second baseman.

Many teams would be acquiring Ben Zobrist as a second base upgrade, but that certainly isn’t all he would be. It cannot be understated how much value he provides his team with his ability to slide over to any spot other than pitcher or catcher. He can do that if someone gets injured or is underperforming, but his positional flexibility also helps his team on a daily basis.

Zobrist’s versatility isn’t just a backup plan for when something goes wrong. I understand that it’s the offseason and none of us want to think about our team’s shortstop getting injured or their hotshot prospect being a bust, but Zobrist’s value as a super-utility player extends beyond that.

With the help of Ben Zobrist, a team can have a platoon between a lefty-hitting right fielder and a righty-hitting second baseman. Thanks to Zobrist, a team can pinch-hit for a shortstop with a left fielder and not worry about having to burn another player for defense. Zobrist’s versatility is a crucial dimension of his game, and you don’t quite appreciate it until he’s on your team.

Even if Zobrist is penciled in as a team’s everyday second baseman at the beginning of the year, you can be entirely confident that he will appear at other positions many times before the season is through. His ability to play all over the field will make a significant impact no matter which team calls him their own.