This might seem like cheating, but Zobrist has played games a first and could easily fill a utility role. Also, second base is filled, and the outfield will become a little crowded (you’ll see what I mean in a second).
First basemen, as it is, don’t typically become undervalued. That’s the power position, the one that gets all of the attention for hitting homers and driving in runs. If anything, this leads to first basemen being overvalued, as the position is (relatively) easy to play and can be filled somewhat easily.
Besides, first base seems to be really stacked at the moment, between Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira and so on. Thus, I went with someone else who doesn’t get noticed enough.
Zobrist gained some attention in 2009, when the utility man came to spring training with a reworked swing and proceeded to dominate the league. He posted a .297/.405/.543 line, good for a 149 OPS+, all while spending time at second base (his main position), right field, shortstop, left field, center field, first base, third base and designated hitter.
Last year, he shifted his main position to right field (although still playing second, first, center, third and left) while posting a still-respectable .238/.346/.353. However, his 96 OPS+ seemed a little weak after 2009.
Well, this year, he’s back to being an MVP candidate, hitting .266/.349/.473 from second base (although he still spells the surprising Matt Joyce in right on occasion), good for a 134 OPS+. By FanGraphs, he leads all second basemen AND right fielders in WAR since 2009 with 16.3, including 4.0 already this year. Only Jose Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson are better in the AL thus far.
Article originally posted at Hot Corner Harbor