5 reasons Zobrist has so many suitors
The market is heating up for Ben Zobrist, which comes as no surprise given the free agent's versatility.
Before Zobrist finds a new home, let's take a look at five key facts and figures that help explain the growing interest surrounding him. This is just the latest installment in an ongoing series that highlights five interesting stats for each of this offseason's top free agents.
Here's a look at those five stats for Zobrist, who could end up playing for his third team in two years after spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Rays.
1. Slugging southpaws
Zobrist has hit left-handed pitchers particularly well, racking up a career .290/.368/.455 slash line against lefties, including a .334/.404/.495 line the past two seasons. For comparison, he's a career .254/.349/.420 hitter against right-handers. Zobrist also has 94 doubles off southpaws since becoming a full-time starter in 2009, which are the most two-baggers by any player during that span.
2. Balanced consistency
Although Zobrist's six-year streak of stealing double-digit bases came to an end this year -- likely the result of his April knee surgery -- he still managed to extend his run of hitting at least 10 homers. He's now hit double-digit home runs in eight consecutive seasons, which includes the 2008 campaign, during which he played only 62 games. Since becoming an everyday player in 2009, Zobrist has posted double-digit totals in both home runs and stolen bases in six of the seven seasons. That makes him one of only five players -- along with Andrew McCutchen, Hanley Ramirez, Ian Kinsler and Ryan Braun -- with 10-plus homers and steals in at least six of the past seven seasons.
3. Super-utility man
Zobrist is known for his versatility in the field, having logged time at every position except pitcher and catcher. Of course, he's spent the most time at second base (616 games), followed by right field (336) and shortstop (229). Those numbers make him the only active player to have played at least 200 games at both middle-infield positions, as well as one particular spot in the outfield. Zobrist is also one of only four active players -- along with Willie Bloomquist, Don Kelly and Sean Rodriguez -- to have played at least five games at every defensive position (besides catcher) and as a designated hitter.
4. Mr. Reliable
Along with his versatility, Zobrist has also provided plenty of durability throughout his career. In fact, his 1,045 games played since 2009 are the ninth most by any player during that span. Zobrist had also played at least 146 games in six consecutive seasons before being limited to 126 last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in late April.
5. Draft steal
Despite being a sixth-round pick by the Astros in the 2004 Draft, Zobrist has a higher career WAR (38.5) than all but two of the 183 players selected before him. Justin Verlander, that season's No. 2 overall pick, has a 43.6 WAR and Dustin Pedroia, a second-round selection, checks in with a 45.1 WAR. Zobrist's 38.5 WAR is also just shy of the 40.3 WAR accumulated by every player taken in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds combined.