Tampa Bay Rays Season Preview: Ben Zobrist
Ben Zobrist Quietly Puts Up Elite Numbers
The quiet unassuming Ben Zobrist had another fantastic season with the Rays which included being named to the All-Star Team.
Zobrist once again was a force in the Rays lineup posting a triple slash line of .275/.354/.402 with a wOBA of .334 and a wRC+ of 115. He added 12 home runs, 77 RBI, and stole 11 bases. Fangraphs.com credited him with 5.8 wins above replacement (WAR) which ties him for 10th in the American League with Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Along with the offensive punch he provided solid and versatile defense. He started 117 games at 2b, 26 in the outfield, and 11 at shortstop. He had a .993 fielding percentage at 2b (best in AL and franchise record), a zone rating (UZR/150) of 14.7, and set a club record by playing 81 straight errorless games at second base (May 11th to August 30th).
By appearing in 157 games he became the first Rays player to appear in 150 or more games for 5 consecutive season (2009-2013). He is also the longest tenured Rays player and the last of the remaining “Devil Rays” squads. His 1376.2 innings played in 2013 tied Delmon Young (2007) for the team record.
He led the Rays in hits (168), on-base percentage (.354), game tying and go-ahead RBI (28), and multi-hit games (49).
There are several mathematical projection models and several have including Pecota, ZiPs, Oliver, & Steamer are provided in the table below. Fangraphs sabermetric library goes into more detail on the different systems (LINK).
Pecota was developed by Nat Silver and is released via Baseball Prospectus and is an acronym for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.
Oliver was created by Brian Cartwright and is available at The Hardball Times. It’s a comparatively simple projection system – using weighted averages of the past three seasons of data, and adjusting for aging and regression
ZiPS was created by Dan Szymborski and is available at the Baseball Think Factory. The ZiPS projections uses weighted averages of four years of data (three if a player is very old or very young).
Steamer projections were created by Jared Cross, Dash Davidson, and Peter Rosenbloom and are available at Steamerprojections.com.
He will turn 33 this May but don’t look for much of a drop in performance over what he has done in the past. He has been able to avoid injury while maintaining a solid eye for the strikezone. A decrease in power may be expected but should be balanced with a higher on-base percentage as he cuts his swing down and focuses on making solid contact.
Last 3 Years:
Many of the projection models use the data from the past three seasons in their forecast.
Many players are better in one role or another. When a player has a significant gap against either right handed pitchers or left handed pitchers he usually will find himself in a platoon role. Besides being a premier defender at multiple positions he is also a switch hitter who, with the exception of 2013 versus left handed pitching, performs well from both sides of the plate.
His wife, Julianna, is a christian alternative recording artist. Last year she sang God Bless America during Game 3 of the ALDS between the Rays and Red Sox.
Twitter account: @thezobrist
July 10th Zobrist walk-off single to send Rays to 4-3 victory over Twins in 13 innings.