2014 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2014 Fantasy Baseball Value: Is Ben Zobrist on the move?

The second wild card has thrown a monkey wrench into the whole trade deadline process. It’s even caused some people to propose pushing the non-waiver deadline back into August. The problem is that too many teams think they are still in the hunt when the deadline comes this Thursday. The Rays are one of those teams caught in no man’s land. They have tradeable pieces in David Price and Ben Zobrist, but they are just fresh off a nine game winning streak that brought them within five games of the second wild card spot.

For a team like the Rays, this is particularly problematic. They have built a consistent contender by continuing to replenish the farm system, but a picking at the bottom of the first round for more than five years. So, sometimes you have to deal some veterans to get some prospects into the system. David Price and Ben Zobrist could bring in a king’s ransom and set the Rays up for the next several years. Of course, trading them would be signaling that they are giving up on the season and may not sit well with the fans.

Price is obviously the main prize, but underestimating Zobrist has become a national pastime. We are talking about a player that led the American League in wins above replacement in 2011, and finished second in 2009. According to baseball-reference.com, Zobrist has 2.7 WAR this season, so it’s not exactly like he’s been irrelevant. However, WAR doesn’t show up in most fantasy leagues, so let’s take a look at the relevant fantasy statistics.

AVG

OBP

HR

Runs

RBI

SB

2009

.297

.405

27

91

91

17

2010

.238

.346

10

77

75

24

2011

.269

.353

20

99

91

19

2012

.270

.377

20

88

74

14

2013

.275

.354

12

77

71

11

2914

.268

.358

8

48

29

6

Batting averages are antiquated and yet so much of our perception of players is based on batting average. When you look at the numbers above and ignore on base percentage you see a pretty good power and speed threat that is eligible at a lot of positions. That by itself is pretty valuable, but when you throw in the walks you get a uniquely valuable player both in the fantasy world and in the world of real life.

With the last few players we’ve profiled, we’ve taken a look at the defensive metrics to determine what overall value the player has. Looking at defensive metrics with Zobrist might be beneficial, but that isn’t the extent of his value. The real value comes in looking at all of the different places that Zobrist plays.

2B

3B

SS

LF

RF

2009

91

1

13

9

59

2010

55

2

0

1

103

2011

131

0

0

0

38

2012

58

0

47

0

71

2013

125

0

21

4

39

2014

58

0

23

13

9

 Few regulars have this kind of profile. Here you have a guy that has played in 100 or more games six seasons in a row, but he played more than 100 games at any one position only twice. That means that teams that need a second basemen are not the only ones that would want Zobrist, but we will look at the teams that need second basemen for the time being.

Possible Suitors

The Favorites: San Francisco Giants

There might be longer odds on this move now that the Giants have acquired Jake Peavy, but the Giants offense is in much more need of an infusion than their pitching staff. They surrendered their huge lead to the Dodgers largely because their offense has been struggling. In particular, they need something on top of the order. Hunter Pence is not a leadoff guy, but he’s been hitting leadoff for much of the season. The question is whether they are willing to surrender the prospects to make it happen.

It Makes Sense: Atlanta Braves

Again, there have been no rumors reported on mlbtraderumors.com concering the Atlanta Braves and Zobrist, but it makes too much sense not to consider. The Braves recently released Dan Uggla after a tumultuous tenure that saw him collectively hit around the Mendoza line. The Braves need to make a push to get the division title. Most of the rumors with the Braves have circulated around pitching, but adding a top of the order type of guy that can play everywhere would seem to do the trick.

Fantasy Impact

The Rays are one of the worst offenses in baseball. This is problematic for a player that is generally regarded as a table setter. Of course, any deal would change his value somehow. We just don’t know where the trading team would want him to hit. If he stays on top of the order then we might see a bump in runs scored and perhaps stolen bases. If he hits lower in the order we might see more RBI. Either way, a trade would likely increase his fantasy value.

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