After a blistering hot stretch of games, Ben Zobrist was crowned the 2016 World Series Most Valuable Player. And he earned the heck out of it.
— MLB (@MLB) November 3, 2016
But before we get into his series as a whole, let’s take a quick look into just what happened last night in the top of the tenth inning. After the Cubs blew a 6-3 lead with just four outs to go in the eighth (I can’t express how writing that makes me feel now, vis a vis last night), Aroldis Chapman held things down in the ninth and the game headed to extra innings – the first time I really despised #freebaseball.
Kyle Schwarber led off the inning with a line drive single to right field (because, of course he did) and was lifted for the pinch runner Albert Almora Jr. Then, the presumptive 2016 NL MVP stepped up to the plate and tricked us into thinking he sent one over the right-center field wall. The result was just a really long fly ball out … but that’s not all. Almora wisely tagged up on the play from first and got himself into scoring position with Anthony Rizzo at the plate. That was absolutely HUGE.
With first base open and one out – thanks to Almora – the Indians decided to intentionally walk Anthony Rizzo (the lefty with a hit and a walk on the night) to get to Ben Zobrist (the switch hitter who was 0-4 coming to the plate). While I could sort of understand the move at the time – setting up a double play, Rizzo is amazing, etc. – Ben Zobrist sure seemed like the last guy you want at the plate when it’s a critical postseason moment.
Here’s that series of events, as they played out:
Of course, Ben Zobrist smacked a ground ball double down the left field line and Almora scored easily from second base. It also knocked Rizzo into (an easier) scoring position, a run that would eventually score on Miguel Montero’s single.
In short, that hit alone – an RBI double giving the Chicago Cubs a lead in extra innings of Game 7 of the World Series – should have been enough to crown him the most valuable player, but he did much, much more than that.
From Game 1 to Game 7 of the World Series, Ben Zobrist got at least one hit in every single game, amounting to ten total hits and three walks. Here’s what his series looked like at glance:
In total, Zobrist slashed .357/.419/.500 with two doubles, a triple, three walks and just four strikeouts in 31 World Series plate appearances. He also played a perfectly steady (and almost hilariously fundamental) left field, after playing second base for nearly the entire regular season.
After striking out a bit too often in the 2015 NLCS last postseason (and the regular season), the Cubs set out to get some high quality, polished approach, contact bats and Ben Zobrist might be the ultimate version of that. Even if he’s not the best overall offensive performer, there are very few hitters you’d ever want up in a spot like that more than Ben Zobrist.
Also, if you’re looking to pick up OFFICIAL postseason gear, including the brand new World Champion shirts and hats the Cubs are partying in, we now have a relationship with Fanatics. So, get the official gear here, and you support BN in the process: