Ben Zobrist

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Ben Zobrist
Ben Zobrist April 2014.jpg
Zobrist before a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 14, 2014.
Tampa Bay Rays – No. 18
Second Base/Shortstop/Outfield
Born: (1981-05-26) May 26, 1981 (age 33)
Eureka, Illinois
Bats: Switch Throws: Right
MLB debut
August 1, 2006 for the Tampa Bay Rays
Career statistics
(through April 8, 2014)
Batting average .264
Home runs 107
Runs batted in 467
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Benjamin Thomas "Ben" Zobrist (born Tuesday, May 26, 1981) is an American baseball player currently with Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays. A switch-hitter who throws right-handed, he has exhibited a versatility to play most positions with the exception of pitcher and catcher. He has been the Rays' starting second baseman since 2009. Besides Zo, Zoby and Ben-Zo, he is also known by the nickname Zorilla, given to him by Rays manager Joe Maddon.[1]

Zobrist is a devoted Christian, and has made the All-Star roster two times. He is often considered to be one of the best utility players of his generation and is considered a "super utility player".[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Zobrist was born and raised in Eureka, Illinois, by his parents Cynthia "Cindi" (née Cali) and Tom Zobrist, a pastor at the Liberty Bible Church.[4][5] He loved playing baseball since he was eight, so much so that he and his friends built their own wiffle ball field behind his house. After no pro scouts or college recruiters looked at him when he graduated, he thought baseball was over for him. "Baseball was not even a thought in my mind," Zobrist said, "When I was done with my last high school game, I was driving around town just thinking I'm done with baseball the rest of my life." Despite this, Zobrist's high school coach encouraged him to go the annual event that showcased seniors in Peoria, Illinois each summer. He played in the showcase, and was given an offer by Olivet Nazarene University and turned a great career while at Olivet. In his time at Olivet, he pitched and also played at shortstop and second. He transferred to Dallas Baptist University for his senior year, where he played shortstop.[6]

Baseball career[edit]

Zobrist played in Wausau, WI for the Wisconsin Woodchucks of the Summer Collegiate Northwoods League in 2003. He was voted team MVP & led his team to the League Championship.

Tampa Bay Rays (2006-present)[edit]

Zobrist was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 6th round of the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft. With right-handed pitcher Mitch Talbot, Zobrist was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for first baseman/designated hitter Aubrey Huff and cash on July 12, 2006.[1] Zobrist was the team's starting shortstop through his first two seasons with them.

He struggled through parts of the 2006 and 2007 seasons with the Rays. One day he met a "swing mechanic" (batting coach) looking for students. The swing coach was able to help Zobrist, and it was evident to the Rays during the 2008 season. "He added the power component," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said, "He became a lot more physical."[6]

Zobrist with the Rays

2008 season[edit]

For the most part, Zobrist was used as a right fielder and a back-up shortstop during the 2008 season. In certain situations where a fifth infielder was needed, he or BJ Upton (a former infielder himself) would be moved in from the outfield during the season. Zobrist went to his first World Series as a player with the Rays in 2008. His versatility was showcased during Game 3 of the 2008 World Series against the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies when he came in as part of a double switch to play right field. However, Zobrist initially played unusually shallow, in essence becoming a fifth infielder.

2009 season[edit]

Zobrist was placed in right field for the beginning of the 2009 season, and had since been made the starting second baseman after teammate Akinori Iwamura was injured. Zobrist hit three grand slams in 2009, leading the Rays, and was among the league leaders in slugging percentage. He earned himself a trip to his first All Star Game in St. Louis in 2009.[7] The Tampa Bay Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America named him MVP of the Rays for 2009.[8]

Zobrist in 2009

Zobrist led all hitters in the Majors in 2009 for wins above replacement with 8.6, ahead of Albert Pujols' 8.4 WAR.[9]

2010 season[edit]

On April 23, 2010, Zobrist and the Rays agreed to a three-year contract extension through the 2013 season, with a team option for 2014 and 2015. The deal could be worth up to $30 million.[10]

In 2010, Zobrist batted .238, with a .353 slugging percentage.[11]

2011 season[edit]

On April 28, 2011, Zobrist hit a Tampa Bay Rays record 8 RBIs in a 15–3 rout of the Minnesota Twins.[12]

Another game was held during the day to makeup for a previously rained out game and Zobrist drove in another 2 runs, making a total 10 RBIs for the day.

Zobrist led the American League in WAR with 8.8, ahead of MVP Justin Verlander and MVP runner up Jacoby Ellsbury[13]

2012 season[edit]

In the 2012 season, Zobrist's skills were used at multiple positions. He played 47 games at Shortstop, the most since his rookie season. He was also used as an Outfielder and Second baseman.[14]

He finished the year with 20 Homeruns, accomplishing the feat for the second time in a row.

2013 season[edit]

On April 8, 2013, Zobrist became the strikeout victim on the disputed call that led to Joe Nathan's 300th career save. On July 5, 2013, Zobrist was named an All Star for the second time of his career.[15]

He finished the year with a .275 batting average, his highest since 2009.

Personal life[edit]

Zobrist lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife, Christian singer Julianna Zobrist and their children, a son, Zion Benjamin, who was born on February 1, 2009.[16] and a daughter, Kruse Allegra, who was born on September 19, 2011.[17] Zobrist is a former counselor for Camp of Champions USA, a Christian summer day camp in central Illinois.[18] He used Christian rap artist TobyMac's song "Ignition" as his entrance song during the 2008 and start of the 2009 season. He currently uses a song by his wife, "Behind Me", as his entrance song

Zobrist often talks about his Christian faith, claiming that God helped him realize that he was supposed to play baseball. "I just felt like everything fell into place so much, that this is what I was supposed to do," Zobrist said, "This is what I was made to do." He often mentions during interviews how blessed he has been through his baseball career. He and Christian former teammate Gabe Gross have talked about how they organize Bible studies with their teammates. St. Pete Times writer Mark Topkin wrote how Zobrist does this with his teammates, saying Zobrist "doesn't judge or proselytize, refraining from forcing his beliefs on anyone, though willing to get involved if asked." Zobrist also chooses not to smoke, drink, or do drugs.[6]

In the 2013 film Ring The Bell, released by Provident Films, Ben plays himself in a cameo role alongside Rick Sutcliffe, John Kruk, Mark Hall (also playing themselves), Ryan Scharoun, Ashley Anderson McCarthy, and Casey Bond.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Schwarz, Alan. "For Rays' Zobrist, Versatility Meets Opportunity," The New York Times, Sunday, July 19, 2009.
  2. ^ "Ben Zobrist super-utility player". usatoday.com. March 23, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Ben Zobrist is 'Father of Utility'". mlb.com. March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 12, 2014. 
  4. ^ http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/article1018198.ece
  5. ^ http://mywebtimes.com/archives/ottawa/display.php?id=265621
  6. ^ a b c "Topkin, Mark. "Tampa Bay Rays' Ben Zobrist has taken a surprising path to today's All-Star Game" ''St. Petersburg Times'', Tuesday, July 14, 2009". Tampabay.com. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  7. ^ Franklin´s Ben Zobrist earns spot as All Star reserve[dead link]
  8. ^ "Ben Zobrist named Rays MVP; Niemann the Rookie of the Year". Blogs.tampabay.com. October 3, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Major League Leaderboard >> 2009 >> Batters >> Value Statistics". Fangraphs.com. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  10. ^ Chastain, Bill (April 23, 2010). "Zobrist, Rays, reach long-term extension". MLB.com. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Ben Zobrist Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/2011-batting-leaders.shtml
  14. ^ http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/27941/now-playing-shortstop-ben-zobrist
  15. ^ http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/rays-zobrist-makes-al-all-star-team/2130253
  16. ^ Ben and Julianna Zobrist Welcome Son Zion Benjamin Celebrity Baby Blog, February 12, 2009
  17. ^ It's a Girl!!! TheZobrists.com, October 31, 2011
  18. ^ "Piniat, Elaine. "Former AIA Player Makes it to the 'Big Leagues'," Athletes in Action, Thursday, June 25, 2009". Athletesinaction.org. June 25, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 

External links[edit]