Ben Zobrist Spins Dross Into Gold At Second Base

They say football is a game of inches.

Which it is.

So is basketball, and probably hockey. I'm pretty sure inches are important in bowling and darts, too.

Also, baseball.

In the bottom of the first inning, the Rangers trailed 1-0 but Ian Kinsler led off with a single and Elvis Andrus shot a liner toward right field. By all rights, Texas should have had a couple of runners on base with nobody out, and their best hitters due next.

Except Andrus's liner didn't reach right field, because second baseman Ben Zobrist snagged the ball in the outer bit of his glove's webbing. Worse (for the Rangers), Kinsler assumed Zobrist couldn't make the play and was easily doubled off first. What should (by all right) have been two on and nobody out became, faster than you can say Jack Robinson, two out and nobody on.

These things do happen, but they happen somewhat more often when Ben Zobrist is playing second base. Recently, John Dewan wrote this in the midst of a discussion of Fielding Bible Award candidates:

It's time to recognize Ben Zobrist, the Jack of All Positions. This year the top eight second basemen in Runs Saved are all in the AL, with Zobrist leading the pack having saved his team an estimate 18 runs defensively. Zobrist has spent the majority of his time this year at second base, continuing the excellence he has shown there previously in more limited time. He is followed closely by Howie Kendrick with 16, Ian Kinsler with 15 and Dustin Pedroia with 13.

I voted for Dustin Pedroia, but Zobrist's numbers at second base have been outstanding since the Rays first sent him there, and perhaps he's been even better this year, relieved of frequent duties elsewhere on the field.

Zobrist probably won't win a Gold Glove this season, because voters probably still think of him as a glorified utility player. But he's an excellent second baseman, and you probably don't need to convince the Texas Rangers.

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