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Before B.J. Upton Made It Rain, Ben Zobrist Brought The Lightning

I haven't written much about Ben Zobrist since the "Zobrist Code" was cracked. I've been a quiet observer as Zobrist has turned into a semi-everyday player, who continues to produce at the plate and also continues to improve as a corner outfielder. His second base gaffe aside, Zobrist has continued to excel in his super utility role. Since the article was written on April 23rd, Benzo has continued to hit the ball with authority. Over those 13 games his slash line is .273/.385/.606/.991. He has six walks in his past 39 plate appearances and has two doubles to go with three home runs including last night's game tying eighth inning blast.

Whether you can quantify someone as being "clutch" or not is debatable, but I guess you can say Zobrist has been pretty clutch this year. With his club down three runs against the White Sox, Zobrist stepped off the bench against the hard throwing left hander, Matt Thorthton and hit a pinch hit go ahead grand slam. In the ninth inning of a 3-2 game, Zobrist once again left his spot on the bench to face one of the games better relievers in Joe Nathan. Once again, Ben would hit a home run to tie the game.

Last night when the Rays needed someone to continue the spark, Ben Zobrist delivered again. In his first at bat, as weird as it was, Ben grounded out in what looked like a routine double play. However, after Willy Aybar was forced at second base, Zobrist reached on an error by the second basemen which allowed Evan Longoria to score. Now it wasn't anything on the part of Zobrist that got that run in, but he always seems to be involved in something.

In the eighth inning with his team down 7-6 in what is coming a cliché around here, late inning lightning struck again. After Evan Longoria struck out in a huge at bat in the seventh inning with runners on second and third with one out, it looked like the Rays may have ran out of magic. Nonetheless, Ben Zobrist had a little bit left in his bat; leading off the eighth inning, Zobrist took the second fastball he saw from Rafael Betancourt and put into the right field seats tying the game at 7-7. After the lightning, came the rain and B.J. Upton walked us off to the best comeback in team history.

Zobrist continues to homer at a frantic pace. Including his 227 plate appearances in 2008, Zobrist has hit 19 home runs in his last 315 plate appearances. That is one home run every 16.5 plate appearances. If you expand that pace over 600 at-bats you'd have 36 home runs. This year, Zobrist has expedited that pace and has hit a home run once every 12.5 plate appearances. Currently he his on pace for 409 at bats, at his current home run rate, he will hit somewhere around 37 home runs. Now that number seems unlikely, but are you to doubt him after what we've seen 10 months? More likely Zobrist will hit around 20 home runs which would be just fantastic for a bench/semi regular player. For now we will just wait for the next victim of the Zobrist lightning strike.