Jun 19, 2009, 3:01 PM EDT
Ben Zobrist became eligible for the league leaderboards after batting five times last night and immediately took over the AL lead in both slugging percentage and OPS. Seriously. Ben Zobrist. No, really.
He’s hitting .307/.415/.665 with 14 homers, 14 doubles, 33 walks, 39
runs, and 41 RBIs in 212 plate appearances, which is basically a
50-homer, 100-walk, 125-RBI pace over the course of a full season of
everyday playing time.
Zobrist was an on-base machine in the minors, hitting .318 with a
fantastic .418 OBP thanks to averaging 90 walks per 600 plate
appearances, but had a grand total of 23 homers in 364 games and never
went deep even 10 times in a season. That is until last year, when he
homered 12 times in just 227 plate appearances for the Rays
Many people wrote Zobrist off as a long-term utility man when he hit
just .200/.234/.275 with three homers in 83 games during his first few
stints in the majors and no one could have possibly imagined him
developing into anything resembling a slugger. Yet here he is leading
the league in slugging percentage and OPS while sporting a
.279/.376/.581 line with 26 homers in 439 plate appearances since the
beginning of last season.
Unfortunately for Zobrist his reign atop the AL leaderboards will be
short lived regardless of whether he keeps up his current pace, because
Joe Mauer is close to accumulating enough plate appearances
to qualify for the batting title himself and … well, he scoffs at a
measly .615 slugging percentage and puny 1.080 OPS (although not for the same reasons as Harold Reynolds). Mauer is slugging .750 and OPSing at 1.245.
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