Aug 15, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) hits a RBI during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
3. Ben Zobrist Is Still a Great Hitter
In 2014, Ben Zobrist’s slugging percentage fell below .400 at .395. But before you use that to indict his offensive game, however, please account for ballpark effects. Everyone remembers Tropicana Field’s empty seats, but few people recall how difficult it is to hit there.
According to OPS+, Ben Zobrist’s hitting was 16% above the league average adjusted to ballpark. Another statistic, wRC+ liked him even more, rating his offense as 19% above the average. Those are the numbers we should be looking at, not Zobrist’s raw slash line.
Whenever you compare Zobrist’s triple-slash to hitters in basically any other offensive environment, he looks a lot worse then he truly is. The reality is this: Zobrist is an outstanding hitter for a shortstop or second baseman and would even be markedly better than average as a corner outfielder. Few teams don’t have a position Zobrist can upgrade offensively–and we’re not even factoring in his defense here.
It is true that Zobrist’s power isn’t what it once was (more on that later), but he still has excellent plate discipline and strong power to the gaps. Put him in a different ballpark, and his average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage–not to mention his doubles, homers, and RBIs–will look a lot more shiny.