Cubs’ Ben Zobrist going where he hasn’t been before
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Ben Zobrist has walked 33 times and struck out 23 times. That would be the living definition of “seeing the ball well.’’
He entered Monday leading the big leagues in on-base percentage and was tied for second in average.
His slash line (look at me getting all stat-y!) of .351/.452/.538 makes his career numbers (.268/.358/.435) look puny. His on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.990) kicks sand in the face of his career OPS (.794).
All those statistics are a numerical way of saying, “Well, this is the damnedest thing.’’
Zobrist is 35, which is older, not old. But still. The Cubs expected a lot of things when they signed him as a free agent in the offseason. They expected a veteran who could play a number of positions, win games with his bat and show the way for younger teammates.
But they couldn’t have expected this.
They couldn’t have expected he would be leaps and bounds and opposite-field line drives ahead of where he has been in the past.
When does a hot start become a hot season? We’re not even a third of the way through the schedule, so maybe not just yet.
We’re seeing a man who has been around a long time and seen just about everything pitchers can offer. We’re seeing a man who is having the time of his life on a winning team — a fun, bubbly, almost syrupy team. (If the Cubs were a magazine, they’d be Tiger Beat.) There are 35-year-olds who are so old they need to be carbon-dated. For some reason, time hasn’t worked on Zobrist the way it has on others.
He’s doing everything for the Cubs. In the 2-0 victory Monday against the Dodgers, he reached base twice in four plate appearances and scored the first run. His seven home runs trail only the team-leading 11 by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. He’s third on the Cubs in RBI with 35.
It just goes on. His hitting streak is at 16 games, tying a career high. And he has reached base safely in 35 consecutive starts.
It has to stop at some point, doesn’t it?
Well, doesn’t it?