Oakland Athletics’ utility man Ben Zobrist is one of the most highly desired players this trade season. Not only is he a skilled ball player, but he is the only quality middle infielder that seems to be available. Despite a handful of teams inquiring about Zobrist, the A’s should keep this versatile player until the offseason.
Zobrist has had a huge impact on this team since coming back from arthroscopic knee surgery. During his first full month back in June, Zobrist was slugging .495 and his OPS was .879. Additionally, in his last 15 games, he has gotten ten hits and has only struck out six times in 50 at-bats. He has definitely provided a consistent bat in the lineup for Oakland this season.
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The Athletics have also valued his fielding abilities this year. It is well known that the A’s need all the defensive help they can get in the middle infield and luckily Zobrist has not let them down. On Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, Zobrist extended his errorless streak at second base to 58 games and he has yet to make an error at second this season. Oakland needs his veteran presence in the field to help guide some of the younger, less experienced players like Marcus Semien. If Semien feels confident in Zobrist’s abilities to field at second, then Semien will feel more comfortable about making a play involving the second baseman.
Additionally, Oakland has used Zobrist’s versatile fielding skills to their advantage. While he mainly resides at second base, the A’s have placed him in both right and left field this season. Now, with Jake Smolinski as the backup outfielder for the team, the Athletics can also start putting Zobrist at short when Semien needs a day off. While it is true that shortstop is not Zobrist’s best position, or even fellow middle infielder Eric Sogard’s for that matter, Zobrist has only made 31 errors in his entire career at shortstop, which is a total of 229 games played in that position, while Semien has committed 28 in just this one season.
Ultimately, it is better to have Zobrist in the field on a daily basis then have Semien and Sogard be Oakland’s starting infielders with Andy Parrino as their backup. Zobrist is reliable at the plate as well as in the field, and provides an overall sense of stability, which is not the case for many other A’s players. If the Athletics want even the slightest chance of contending this season, they need to keep Zobrist.