Figuring Out Ben Zobrist's Kryptonite

Don't look now, but Ben Zobrist is not a super hitting cyborg. Over the past few games, ZoRilla has been more of a chimp than a champ. I'm not getting down on Benzo because of a six game slide, but we've been very pro Ben on the site. To be fair we have to cover his struggles no matter how loud FreeZorilla objects. Over the past week Benzo has not been good. In his last 26 plate appearances he has just three hits and a slash line of .120/.154/.240. He has walked just one time and struck out five times.

Similar to Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist has seen an increased amount of junk pitches thrown in his direction. After seeing more than 60% fastballs over his career, the man known as late inning lightning has seen just over 53%  heaters in 2009. The good news is Benzo is a much better hitter and has handled this shift well. However, in the past week, pitchers have increased the number of sliders and change ups thrown his way.

21.2% of the pitches thrown Zobrist's way in the past six games have been sliders. Overall, he's handled sliders pretty well (wSL/C 3.41), but not so much this week (wSL/C -1.23). Zobrist has seen 15.5% change ups this year and has shown to be vulnerable to the off speed stuff. His wCH/C is a negative 0.43. In the past week, that number has sunk to -1.13 on 16.5% change ups. One thing to note is he has historically struggled with change ups.

Zobrist has just one walk in the past six games, but luckily, his plate discipline seems to be intact. His O-Swing of 17.4% nearly matches his season average of 17.3%. The problem for Zobrist is contact on those pitches.  For the year he is averaging over 66% contact on swings outside of the zone, over the past six games it's down to just 37.5. Sure we are dealing with a small sample size, but it's good to see that Ben isn't just hacking up there. His BABIP over the past six games is just .120 meaning bad luck is partly to blame for the slump.

Like I said above, six game slumps aren't anything to get worried over, but there are still some who perceive Zobrist as a fluke and any slump could add some fuel to their fire. Right now is it seems that Zobrist is just swinging at the wrong pitches. Maybe if he backed off a few sliders and change ups and waited on the fastball, things will fix themselves. If that doesn't work he can try swinging harder.  Or call the swing mechanic.

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