It has been a while since we checked in on the players who disappointed fantasy owners in 2010, so today let’s check in on the 2010 performance of Ben Zobrist. Yes, his eligibility all around the diamond (he played at least 14 games at 1B, 2B and OF in 2010) helped a little bit, but it was far from enough. Does multi-position eligibility really make up for these numbers:
541 At Bats
.238 Batting Average (129 Hits)
10 Home Runs
24 Stolen Bases
.346 On Base Percentage
.353 Slugging Percentage
.273 Batting Average on Balls in Play
In order to look at Zobrist, you almost have to decide which side of the fence you fall on. Do you believe his 2010 breakout was for real (.297, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 91 R, 17 SB) or do you believe that he performed over his head? Even if you believe the latter, you couldn’t have expected such a big regression in 2011.
His HR/FB seemingly fell off a cliff in 2010 after emerging the prior two years:
- 2008 – 17.4% (198 AB)
- 2009 – 17.5% (501 AB)
- 2010 – 6.0% (541 AB)
That’s a huge decline, to say the least. His fly ball rate was consistent from 2009 to 2010, and if he can maintain that you would have to expect him to regain some power, even if not back to his 2008 and 2009 levels. At the worst, you would have to think that he could reach the 16-20 HR range in 2011, which the Rays will desperately need. With Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena no longer part of the lineup, Zobrist is likely to join Evan Longoria as one of the key factors in driving in runs.
The power outage also helped to explain his fall in the average department, though it wasn’t the only factor. Obviously, fewer home runs lead to more balls put in play. That alone is going to help lead to a lower average, especially when you have such a big outage.
Couple that fall with a drop of over 50 points in his BABIP (he was at .326 in ’09), and that certainly helps explain his awful average. However, there certainly are plenty of reasons to think that he will post a significantly better average in 2011:
- 1. He has a great eye at the plate – Over the past two seasons he has posted walk rates of 15.2% and 14.0%. In fact, the latter number put him in a tie for seventh among players who qualified for the batting title.
- 2. He does not strikeout an excessive amount – In 2010 his strikeout rate was 19.8%. While that’s not a great mark, it certainly could be significantly worse. If he can continually put the ball in play, an improvement is bound to happen.
He may not close in on a .300 average, but .270 or better would appear to be a lock.
Throw in the speed that he added in 2010 and you are looking at an extremely solid option among 2B. Yes, there are risks involved, especially given his struggles, but he could go 20/20 with a .270+ average. He also is likely to be a key component in the middle of the Rays lineup, meaning he could go at least 80/80, and possibly push 90/90 once again.
That’s a whole lot of upside. He’s going to fall significantly from where he was being drafted a year ago (according to Mock Draft Central his ADP is currently 124.72), really adding to his appeal. He is going to enter the season with eligibility at 2B and OF in all formats (and maybe 1B as well), just increasing his value. With multi-position eligibility and a ton of upside, you have to like betting on him to rebound in 2011.
What are your thoughts on Zobrist? What kind of numbers do you think he could put up? Is he a player you’d target on draft day?
Make sure to check out our review of other players who struggled in 2010 and their prospects for a rebound: