Current Ben Zobrist is the Best Ben Zobrist and Other Bullets

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Current Ben Zobrist is the Best Ben Zobrist and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

ben zobrist cubsIt’s a doubleheader day for the Cubs, so get yourself ready for a whole lot of Cubs baseball. I don’t think the Cubs are going to be swept by the Padres today, but I’ve been thinking about the fact that the Cubs have lost only six games this year, and half of them came against the Braves and Rockies. Further, two of those three came in a series loss to the Rockies at home – the Cubs’ only series loss of the year so far. I’ve been thinking about it because I couldn’t help thinking it would be so baseball for the Cubs to drop two in this series, and then the only two series losses so far for this juggernaut of a team would have come against the two teams at the bottom of the heap in the NL West.

Again, though, I don’t think the Padres will sweep today, so …

  • You already knew Ben Zobrist was on fire, because he was already on fire long before last night’s 4-4 effort or even before he completed a killer stretch last week that earned him NL Player of the Week honors. Since coming out of a 0-21 stretch back in April, Zobrist has hit safely in all but two of his last 15 games, including each of his last eight. His line over that 15-game stretch is a comical .396/.507/.717 (and it’s not just some BABIP-fueled fluke, either – he’s at .348 during that stretch). My favorite Zobrist stat so far, though, has to be the juxtaposition of his walk rate (17.3% – the highest of his career) and his strikeout rate (9.8% – the lowest of his career). Those numbers are just otherworldly.
  • Joe Maddon says this is the “highest level” he’s ever seen Zobrist performing at (, which is saying a lot given how much history the two have together. Zobrist’s line is now up to .305/.424/.495, with a 144 wRC+ (which would be his best since 2009). He’s already been worth 1.5 WAR, which pro-rates out to close to 8.0 WAR if he were to keep performing at this level all season. That’s not likely, but he certainly looks like the 5+ win guy he was for five of the six seasons before a knee injury hampered him in 2015. And he’s doing it all just two weeks shy of his 35th birthday. Assuredly there are some tweaks to his swing and approach that are a big part of his performance, but I also wonder if the comfort of being back in a Maddon clubhouse and having a set defensive home at second base are also helping him to focus even more on his bat.
  • (Zobrist’s crazy performance thus far is covering a good bit for the fact that – for some legit reasons, and for some bad luck reasons – the Cubs’ other big offensive signing, Jason Heyward, has a 59 wRC+, 18th lowest in all of baseball. Yet, thanks to baserunning and defense, Heyward still has a positive WAR!)
  • Of his up-and-down start last night, Jon Lester admitted after the game that a number of his pitches weren’t working for him, so he had to lean heavily on his fastball ( Sometimes you’ll have that, and being able to pitch around it is what makes a veteran like Lester so good.
  • Remember that Andrew McCutchen “error” on the knuckling, late-moving, screaming Anthony Rizzo liner? The one that led McCutchen to joke(?) that the scorekeeper should be fired? Well, either he was fired, or he changed his mind, because the error is now a hit (Wittenmyer). That gives Rizzo a four-hit day in that one, and bumped up his season line from .272/.415/.623 to .281/.423/.632 without even picking up a bat.
  • Sneaky David Ross tried to keep a ball fair with his foot in the 9th inning last night (I think he was actually making a visual joke, but it’s fun either way).
  • A couple notable autograph deals coming up today on Amazon, including a Brian Urlacher signed helmet and a Billy Williams signed ball.
  • Without checking, can you first guess the two kinds of “home runs” that happened to the Marlins, neither of which were actually home runs? In one game. Pretty nuts.
  • Remember Gerardo Concepcion? Well, Luke does, and wrote him up this morning because the dude is pitching extremely well.
  • I never really saw this as a “feel good” story so much as a “wow that’s really dumb if it’s real, but it’s probably not real” story:

  • About the only political discourse I’m interested in hearing:

  • Miscellaneous:

Author: Brett Taylor

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