Versatile Ben Zobrist could be DL-bound
I’ve long been a fan and defender of Tampa Bay Rays switch-hitter Ben Zobrist, enjoying his versatility and 20-homer, 20-steal potential. However, being objective, I was also planning to write a blog entry wondering whether he’s become a bit overrated. After all, Zobrist, now 32, saw a significant decrease in his power last season, his stolen bases have dropped each year, and nobody confused him with being a potential batting title champion in the first place. How valuable is it to be able to play a guy at each middle-infield spot and outfield in fantasy -- real life is totally different -- if he’s on pace for only 12 homers and 12 steals a year after compiling 12 and 11, respectively? Is it enough?
Of course, on Wednesday, Zobrist made news by dislocating his left thumb on a headfirst slide into second base on a failed stolen-base attempt. The Rays will decide Thursday whether Zobrist, who has mainly played second base this season, will need a disabled list stint, but he probably wouldn't be real successful playing through it. Just take a few weeks off. There’s no ideal outcome. And in a baseball world in which significant injuries seemingly occur on a regular basis, Zobrist has averaged 155 games played over the past five seasons, ranking 10th in total games in that span. The durability is a key part of his value. Although he’s been statistically regressing since the start of last season, in the previous five years he averaged 18 home runs, 80 RBIs and 17 stolen bases while hitting .269. That’s so valuable.