Advantage Zorilla For Last A L All-Star Slot
With “Crunch Time” descending upon the M L B World quickly, I am going to put out a plead, a request, a recommendation as to who I believe should get the final roster spot for the 2011 American League All-Star slot. Of course I am going to be pushing the name of Tampa Bay Rays OF/INF/ Uber-Fielder Ben Zobrist for this selection.
Sure Detroit’ DH/C Victor Martinez will have the Tigers all roaring his name. The South Side of Chi-town will hail DH Paul Korneko’s stats to the heavens. Down by the Inner Bay in Baltimore, the O’s faithful will christen CF Adam Jones their unlimited votes, while Royals fans will try to push 3B Alex Gordon out of obscurity to claim the last spot on the 2011 American League All-Star squad.
Hopefully by the end of this blog entry I will have amply persuaded you to toss the rest of your voting selection towards Zobrist until the conclusion of voting late Thursday. So without further ado, let me state my case for Zobrist.
First and foremost, with a nickname like Zorilla, how can you not cast your vote his direction. Since 2008, this hybrid M L B player who has done everything on the diamond but catch and pitch has evoked the power of Godzilla and the finesse of Zorba the Great. The nickname alone would have ESPN broadcasters giggling like little school girls.
Out of the final 5 selections, only Martinez and Zobrist are switch-hitters that could be used against any of the National League hurlers. The added bonus of Zobrist being able to switch from any infield or outfield position with just a glove change makes him a double threat, and a nice secret weapon for the late innings when guys are shuffled around a lot. Martinez would be mostly a DH selection, which would be moot since the game is held in a N L park.
Zobrist is always a double threat at the plate. Zobrist hit his 28th double on Tuesday which ties him with AL All Star 1B Adrian Gonzalez for the M L B lead. Zobrist lead the majors with 12 doubles in June, and has 11 2-baggers in his last 21 games. At one point (June 17-20th) Zobrist doubled in 4-straight contests. Add to this list that Zobrist is also in a 4-way tie with 4 Triples this season and you see that he can be a run producing machine at this time.
Some will throw the fact that Martinez is hitting .324 at this moment, or Konerko has 22 Home Runs and 64 RBIs. Power is great, but these two players also do the most damage as either First Baseman or Designated Hitters, and as I stated before, this position is moot in an NL park.
If you want to talk about solid defense, then again we must chat a bit about Zobrist. In his 223 career starts in the Rays outfield, Zobrist is still without a single error. Considering the ballpark he plays in at home, plus his constant adjustments to new parks and his evolution as an outfielder, that is an incredible stat.
With his ability to play every position on the diamond, or out in the field (besides catcher), the versatility of Zobrist makes him a clear choice as the other 4 candidates have defined roles and positions. Heck, I personally know he will dive into the stands for a foul ball. You will Remember this!
Let me again harp back on Zobrist’s Extra Base prowness this season for a moment. At this juncture in the season, Zobrist currently has 41 Extra Base Hits. He had a total of 40 for the entire 2010 season. That total of 41 XBH ranks him 7th in Major League Baseball at this very moment. Add the bonus that 7 of his 9 Home Runs have come off of Right-handed pitching, and you get a nice pinch hit option off the bench for Washington.
Who could forget Zobrist’s memorable 10-RBI game back on April 28th against the Twins in Target Field. Zobrist also went 4 for 5 with runners in scoring position in that game. He ended up collecting 18 RBIs in 5 games. The last hitter to collect 18 RBI’s in 5 contests was Reggie Jackson (June 14-18 1969).
I could go on and on with the accolades, a prior All-Star selection ( 2009) and the potential Zobrist has to be a key component in this contest that decides home field advantage for the 2011 World Series. This is very important, and was evident in 2010 as the San Francisco Giants rode a winning streak in Arlington, Texas all the way to their first championship since the team embarked for the California coast.
Zobrist has been one of the great Rays role models from his fight to getting to the majors, to his moral integrity and belief system. Plus, I know I am one of the many who would be more than thrilled to heard the beautiful voice of Zobrist’s biggest fan, his wife Julianna as she sing his walk-up song (The Tree) to a National audience. Heck, Zobrist might just get a chance to take the National League to “School ” too
ADVANTAGE: Double Dose of Zorilla All-Star Magic