BEN ZOBRIST, KEY TO WORLD SERIES?

The Mets against the Royals in the World Series promises to be an interesting match up in many ways. The Mets young pitching staff may have enough power to control the Kansas City bats but the Royals bull pen may be able to shut down the Mets offense if the Royals can get a lead. So many things can happen in a short series that there is no almost no point in speculating on the eventual outcome.

Both teams have some exceptional young players who may hold the key to the series and both have some veterans with the ability to get hot and make a difference in a seven game series.

If I had to pick one player, outside of pitchers, that I think is key for either team, I’d pick Ben Zobrist, Kansas City’s Jack of All Trades and Master of All Positions. Zobrist has played second base and batted second for the Royals in every game of the ALDS and ALCS.

He hit .333 with 6 hits in 18 at bats against Houston in the ALDS and .320 with 6 hits in 25 at bats against Toronto in the ALCS for an overall post season average of .326 with 6 RBI’s and 10 runs scored.

Zobrist has played every position in the field except pitcher and catcher in his ten seasons in the Big Leagues. In addition to his versatility in the field, he is a switch hitter which adds to his value.

He began his career with the Tampa Bay Rays and played there for nine years before being traded to the Oakland Athletics on January 10th of this year. He played in 67 games for Oakland, hitting .268 before again being traded to Kansas City on July 28th..

Since coming to Kansas City, he hit .284 in 59 regular season games with seven homers and 23 RBI’s. In those 59 games, he played second base, third base, right field and left field as well as designated hitter.

At Tampa Bay, Zobrist was a fan favorite and hit .264, while doing everything except pitch and catch and sell hot dogs. I was in Tropicana Field for the last exhibition game and the start of the regular season in April and spoke with many Rays fans about losing Zobrist and long time Manager Joe Maddon in the same year. Almost invariably, the fans were more upset about losing Zobrist than Maddon although everyone said the team would not be the same without the two.

Zobrist is a Free Agent at the end of this season and is expected to be highly sought after. I am sure Maddon, now the Manager of the Chicago Cubs, would love to have this versatile player back given his belief and practice that players should play multiple positions.

Zobrist is one of those rare position players who seems to be comfortable and competent wherever he is asked to play. He has been named to two All Star teams, in 2009 and 2013 another rarity for a utility player.

He has said he would prefer to stay in Kansas City but, like every player at this stage of his career, money will probably dictate where he goes. It’s hard to imagine a team that couldn’t make good use of his offensive and defensive versatility and production.

He has been hot at the bat during the first two post season series and could be a major factor in the upcoming World Series.

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