Last week, we ran a Daily Poll listing several players as choices for MVP for the first one-third of the season. We omitted Ben Zobrist. We want a do-over. One could make an argument that Zorilla has been as valuable to the Rays as any other player and with Pat Burrell and Jason Bartlett expected back Friday, his role may soon be reduced.
Last night Zobrist collected 2 more hits, including a home run. It was his 4th home run in the last 7 games. For the season, he is now hitting .304-12-35. And his numbers are even better than that.
He has a .468 wOBA, the highest on the team. Better than Bartlett’s .453 and Evan Longoria’s .418. And so far in 2009 he has already been worth 3.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for the Rays or about $13.9 million. For comparison, Longoria has been worth 3.2 WAR or about $14.3 million, Carlos Pena is at 1.4 WAR ($6.4 million) and Burrell has been worth -0.1 WAR (-0.3 million).
Not bad for a utility player. But maybe even more impressive, is that he has maintained his strong bat despite having to play a different position on an almost nightly basis.
In fact, Zorilla has started a game at every position this season except catcher and first base. And does anybody have any doubt he could play both of those positions if needed?
On Friday, Burrell and Bartlett are expected to return to the Rays lineup and Joe Maddon has stated in the past that he prefers to use Zorilla as a part-time player. But can he justify not having one of the most valuable players in the American League in the starting lineup every night? By the name of Zorilla, we hope not.