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Ben Zobrist: MVP

Posted by Andy on July 4, 2010

Ben Zobrist deserves some serious consideration for MVP due to certain contributions that don't show up in the stats.

Last year, Zobrist was in the top 5 in MLB for Wins Above Replacement with a great value of 7.1:

Rk Player Sean Smith of')" align="center">WAR/pos Year Age Tm
1 Albert Pujols 9.2 2009 29 STL
2 Joe Mauer 7.9 2009 26 MIN
3 Chase Utley 7.7 2009 30 PHI
4 Hanley Ramirez 7.2 2009 25 FLA
5 Ben Zobrist 7.1 2009 28 TBR
6 Adrian Gonzalez 7.0 2009 27 SDP
7 Chone Figgins 6.9 2009 31 LAA
8 Troy Tulowitzki 6.8 2009 24 COL
9 Evan Longoria 6.6 2009 23 TBR
10 Derek Jeter 6.5 2009 35 NYY
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/3/2010.

This year, he's not quite as hot with the bat. He's currently tied for 39th with a 2.2 WAR. That's certainly not shabby but he's behind teammates Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford.

However, have you seen what Zobrist is doing defensively? He's playing a lot of positions and playing them well.

Pos G GS Inn Ch PO A E DP Fld% Rtot Rdrs
RF 68 51 489.0 117 113 4 0 2 1.000 2 7
2B 20 16 125.0 77 27 49 1 12 .987 3 8
CF 7 5 45.2 15 15 0 0 0 1.000 -1 -1
LF 1 0 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1B 3 2 15.0 16 16 0 0 3 1.000 0 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/3/2010.

Those are Zobrist's defensive numbers so far this year. He's got a whole bunch of games in RF and 2B plus a handful at other positions. Yesterday he made his 4th appearance at 1st base (but I wrote this on Saturday...) The Rtot numbers show that he's decent at all the positions. While his defensive contributions are factored into WAR, what isn't factored is a bonus for the fact that he plays so many different positions and plays them well.

Bill Hall is another guy who can play a lot of positions, but he doesn't play any of them well. Hall's valuable, for sure, but nowhere close to Zobrist.

14 Responses to “Ben Zobrist: MVP”

  1. zack Says:

    you aren't serious, are you?

  2. Andy Says:

    I don't actually think Zobrist deserves the AL MVP. I wrote this exaggeration in order to hopefully get Zobrist some of the credit he does deserve.

  3. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Good, yes. A proper complement to Longorias, Crawford, et. al., yes. A serious threat for MVP honors -- not quite; especially since he'd only rank third {behind Longoria and Crawford, of course} among candidates currently on the Rays.

  4. Surly Duff Says:

    Do you even read what you write before you post? By this rationale, Jose Oquendo is the greatest player of all time, right?

  5. Andy Says:

    Great point bringing up Oquendo. He had positive Rtot numbers for his career at SS and 2B, where he played a lot of games, and pretty much zero at numerous other positions. This made him significantly more valuable than his numbers otherwise showed, just like Zobrist. Not, however, the greatest player of all time.

  6. Johnny Twisto Says:

    He did deserve MVP consideration last season. I think I put him 3rd or so on my imaginary ballot. This year, not so much, but there's a long way to go. I do agree that there can be a lot of value in being able to play multiple positions well and I'm not sure how best to quantify that.

  7. DavidRF Says:

    Give the MVP voters some credit. He did come in 8th. For a non-rookie multi-positional guy ("496/7835D") in his first full season and playing for a non-contending team, that's not bad.

    Some of the voters had been looking at the advanced metrics evidently.

  8. WanderingWinder Says:

    I'm simply not sold on the effectiveness of these defensive statistics. The flaws in the "normal" defensive stats are well documented; the "advanced" stats don't matchup with the eyeball test enough for me to trust them.

  9. Nick Says:

    "Eyeball test" is what leads people to think that Torii Hunter is a elite defensive wiz in 2010

  10. Thomas Says:

    would the eyeball test suggest that you are watching every game of every player that doesn't match up with the "advanced" stats?

  11. Brandon Says:

    Well I could argue that Omar Infante is in the same boat as Zobrist. Granted Zobrist has more "power", but Omar contributes in just about all the same ways as Zobrist. I think super utility guys are the "most valuable" players to their given team. However they won't get the recognition they deserve. I think Major League Baseball should come up with some type of Utility Award, maybe call it the Jose Oquendo award!

  12. [THE HANGOVER] The One Where We Discuss A Rare Shields Win, Choate’s Big Outs And An Ugly Money Grab | Rays Index Says:

    [...] MVP might be a stretch, but Ben Zobrist is certainly valuable. [] [...]

  13. Bobby Says:

    Zobrist is no longer a Super Utility. He is a MLB starter who happens to start at two different positions, and sometimes more.

  14. Greg Says:


    So he's not a "super utility" player he is just a player that plays everyday at different positions. How is that not a utility player? Why does it matter whether you start or come off the bench? He still plays all over the place, that still makes him a utility player...