Booger and I were kicking around why the Rays have been scuffling. This is a team that was supposed to be World Series contender had one of the worst records in baseball. Yes we know the Rays starting pitching has been torn apart with injuries. We also know the bullpen has been abused and overworked almost a quarter way through the season. Booger asked about specific players, Evan Longoria, James Loney, and Will Myers came up. He suggested that Ben Zobrist needs to pick it up this season so I said let me take a look at his numbers and see what is going on.
If you are a fan of Sabermetrics and think they are useful in the game today let’s pull some numbers from Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. I am going to take a look at some of his numbers this year and compare them to what he did last season and what his career averages are. If you are not the biggest numbers guy in the world take a look at the blog I posted for a crash course in Sabermetrics.
Lets look at a few key numbers that can help us see what Zobrist is up to this season
Start with the easy ones first
Career 2013 2014
Batting Avg .263 .275 .265
Nothing really out of ordinary he is hitting a slight tick above his career Batting Avg
Slugging % .423 .402 .374
Maybe a little something here with the lower slug maybe it has something to do with only have 3 homers right now and only 10 extra base hits fourth of the way through the season. Last year he had 51 so he is on pace to be just a bit behind last years numbers.
BABIP .291 .303 .288
BABIP = batting average balls in play. How has he done once he has made contact and put the ball in play, did he find day light between infielders, did balls drop in front of outfielders for base hits? Again nothing really crazy out of the ordinary here.
K% 16% 13% 12.1%
BB% 12.3% 10.3% 13.3%
Lets look at his strike out and walk numbers. His strike out rate and percentage is down from his career average. As for walks he is showing more discipline at the plate walking more this season and his career average.
LD% 19.5% 19.7% 18.1%
GB% 44% 42.8% 50.4%
FB% 36.5% 37.5% 31.5%
So what kind of balls is he hitting. Line Drives (LD) are about the same. But his ground balls (GB)are up and his fly balls(FB) are down. Does that have anything to do with his drop in extra base hits. Maybe something to keep an eye on.
VS RHP as a LH .255 .290 .250
VS LHP as a RH .278 .250 .314
Now this is something to look at. Zobrist career wise is a better hitter as a Right handed batter with a 30 point improvement on that side of the plate. This season his difference is 64 points higher form the Right side. In his career he has more pop from the left handed sided of the plate with 78 career homers from that side and 29 from the right handed batters box. Same goes for doubles 125 vs 74. In 2014 he has many more AB’s from the left handed side 129 vs just 44 from his power side of the plate. That is a reason why the homers are down as well as the slug.
One more thing to look at with Zobrist how is he doing when he gets a chance to drive in runs.
Career 2013 2014
AB/ AVG AB/ AVG AB/ AVG
Bases Empty 1978/ .267 398/ .271 95/ .316
Men on Base 1449/ .257 300/ .280 52/ .173
RISP 822/ .268 177/ .297 34/ .147
With Zobrist exchanging contact for power over the last few seasons and the limited AB’s from his power side, I wanted to see how Ben is doing with chances to drive in runs when the chances are there for RBI. As you can see this season he is scuffling versus last years numbers and his career numbers. This is the one part of Ben’s game he has to pick up for the Rays.
SO all and all you really can’t beat up Ben Zobrist for his production so far this season. His BA is about where is always is. His Strike Outs are down and his walks are up. His power numbers are not where he would like them to be, but as we showed his AB from his power side of the plate is way down. The only real beef anyone can offer is hitting with RISP.