Ben Zobrist started the 2017 season out in a relatively long slump. Through his first 18 games (72 plate appearances), he slashed just .197/.319/.328, which was not only well below his own standards, but also much worse than the average Major League hitter (78 wRC+).
However, the Cubs had an off-day immediately after Zobrist’s 18th game (April 27th), and that’s when everything changed.
In the 20 games that have come since that Thursday night in April, Zobrist has reached base in every single contest in which he’s appeared. During that stretch (78 plate appearances), he’s notched 21 hits (including four doubles, two triples, and three home runs), as well eight walks. That’s a .300/.372/.543 slash line and 136 wRC+.
One of those hits includes, of course, last night’s two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Giants (via MLB Network):
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) May 23, 2017
For the season, Zobrist is now slashing .252/.347/.443 (108 wRC+). Although that’s just eight percent better than the average Major League hitter, he’s clearly a player on the rise, who’s turned a corner after a slow start.
And despite a heating up Javy Baez, Jon Lester on the mound, and another hot young second base prospect (Ian Happ) on the roster, it’s Ben Zobrist who gets tonight’s start at second base. Moreover, Zobrist gets a second straight start in the leadoff spot.
This is why I love Joe Maddon’s Cubs: If you hit the ball, you’ll find your name in the lineup.
Keep it up.