Ben Zobrist for MVP

Since today's game is rained out, I figure I might as well draw your attention to something else Rays-related: my article in this weekend's St. Pete Times. In it, I make the argument that Ben Zobrist should be considered for the Rays' MVP award this season.

There were some things I wish I could have elaborated more on in the article, but thankfully, I have this space to expand upon some thoughts. As we all know, Zobrist is primarily a second baseman. He's played over 750 innings at second this season, compared to around 250 innings in right field. And as such, when considering his case for MVP, we need to recognize that second base is a really weak position offensively.

This is intuitive, right? As fans, we all know that if a shortstop and right fielder put up the exact same offensive numbers, the shortstop is the more valuable player because it's such a weak offensive position. The only thing we're haggling over is how large an offensive difference makes a shortstop more valuable than a right fielder....or in this case, a second baseman more valuable than a first baseman.

I don't want to make this long-winded, since I spelled this out in the SPT article, but here's my argument in a nutshell: 

Zobrist - .860 OPS, .376 wOBA
Kotchman - .870 OPS, .377 wOBA

By OPS, Kotchman has been the 8th most productive first baseman in the majors this season. The second baseman with the 8th highest OPS is Dan Uggla (.753 OPS). This isn't meant as a dig at Kotchman, as Albert Pujols is seventh on the OPS list for first basemen, but simply to highlight how impressive Zobrist's offensive contributions are. He's contributed virtually the same on offense as Kotchman, yet he's done it while playing a more position where offense is hard to find.

Still unconvinced? Check out Dave Cameron's article on the positional adjustment in WAR. He uses Zobrist as an example, and it's a very good read for all saber-beginners out there.

Enjoy your Sunday!

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