Getting a Different Kind of Value from Zobrist, Hillarious Willson, and Other Bullets

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Getting a Different Kind of Value from Zobrist, Hillarious Willson, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

It’s always so weird when you wake up with a song in your head that you *know* you haven’t heard in forever. This morning, it was ‘Rude’ by MAGIC! I don’t even especially like that song, and I know I have not heard it in months (years? … when was that a thing?). What dream was I having that plucked that song from somewhere deep in the recesses of the wiring of my brain?

Also: why you gotta be so roooo-uuude?

  • Heading into 2018, it’s fair to presume that Javy Baez will continue to take more and more starts at second base (as well as Ian Happ), leaving fewer there for Ben Zobrist. Much of that is the product of Baez continuing to emerge as an everyday-caliber player, but it’s also the product of the whole “time is undefeated” thing. Zobrist, who turns 37 in May, has hit just .233/.335/.388 (92 wRC+) since May of 2016, including .232/.318/.375 (82) this past season. Various injuries – including a lengthy wrist problem – played a major role in that, but the thing is, guys don’t recover as well from injuries in their late-30s, especially when wrists are involved and bat speed is at stake. Expecting Zobrist to return to the 120+ wRC+ guy he was for a decade in these final two years of his deal with the Cubs is not realistic.
  • That’s not to say you can’t expect Zobrist to provide value, though. Maybe even lots of it, given his versatility and continued steadiness in the field. Heck, even a “bench” guy who makes 80+ starts at a variety of positions with a league-average bat and a league-average glove is an extremely valuable player to have on the roster.
  • And for his part, Zobrist tells Sahadev Sharma that his offseason has already been very different from last year, when he wasn’t physically able to get his conditioning going until mid-to-late December. This time around, a little more like his usual offseason, he started getting things underway in November, and he feels like that will build up a better endurance foundation for the upcoming season, something he thinks he was lacking last year, which led to various physical breakdowns. There’s a whole lot more on Zobrist in Sharma’s piece, so it’s worth a read.
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
  • Also worth a read (in my opinion) is the piece we put together yesterday on the state of the Cubs’ TV broadcast rights, and the future for streaming and MLB. It’s necessarily long – sorry – but it’s critical stuff, not only for the Cubs, but for fans who want to be as free as possible to watch the teams they love in the coming years.
  • A profile on Dillon Maples, who may not have a spot in the Cubs’ bullpen coming out of Spring Training by default, but he could certainly earn a spot if he looks like he did last year (with maybe just a touch more command). The fastball and the slider/cutter are, without question, big-league-high-leverage quality. If he can hit his spots a little more frequently, he’ll be a back-end option for the Cubs for years. Even if he doesn’t make the club out of Spring Training, you can presume he’ll see plenty of time in the big leagues throughout the season.
  • The ZiPS projections are out for the Angels, which means Shohei Ohtani projections. As a pitcher, he projects to be nearly 20% better than league average, but ZiPS isn’t buying the two-way star thing, projecting an exactly average hitter. Obviously that would still be a very valuable player, but when you can really only get him in there as the DH, you’re hoping to get more than a merely average bat out of that spot. Then again, Albert Pujols projects for a mere 87 wRC+, so there’s plenty of room for an average bat to be an improvement.
  • The annual, very deserved congrats for Pat Hughes:


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.