Legends On Deck

World Series MVP Ben Zobrist’s Journey To The Top

On June 7, 2004, the Houston Astros drafted a young man by the name of Ben Zobrist in the 6th round of the MLB June Amateur draft. After playing for two and a half seasons in the Stros’ farm system, Zobrist along with Mitch Talbot was traded on July 12, 2006 to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Aubrey Huff and cash.

That same summer Zobrist made his major league debut on August 1st, against the Detroit Tigers and was hitless in four at bats. The following day in the same series, he recorded his first MLB RBI, and earned hi first hit against the Boston Red Sox on August 4th. In his first taste of the majors overall, he batted .224, with six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 18 RBIs in 52 games.

The following two seasons, he continued to make his presence known appearing in 31 games in 2007 and 62 in 2008. But in 2008, he also got a taste of the postseason, playing in the ALCS against the Red Sox, going hitless in four at bats and 1 for 7 in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. But he wouldn’t taste the glory of a championship until years to come as the Rays lost to the Phillies in their only Fall Classic appearance in the clubs history.

In 2009, Zobrist finally put himself on the map as he became a first time all-star, batting .297, with 28 doubles, 27 home runs and 91 RBI’s in 152 games. For the next five seasons with the Rays, Zobrist would be selected to his second all-star game (2013) and appear in three more postseasons with Tampa, but not getting past the ALDS in each season.

On January 10, 2015, the Rays traded Zobrist along with Yunel Escobar to the Oakland Athletics for Boog Powell, Daniel Robertson, John Jaso and cash.

In 67 games with the A’s, Zobrist batted .268, with 20 doubles, six home runs and 33 RBIs. Prior to the trading deadline, on July 28th, the A’s sent Zobrist along with cash to the Kansas City Royals for Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea. Little did Zobrist know that this trade would be the turning point in his career.

Down the stretch with the Royals and the run to the postseason, Zobrist batted .284, with 16 doubles, seven home runs and 23 RBI’s in 59 games.

The Royals went on to win the Central Division Title, beat the Houston Astros in the ALDS (3-2), Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS (4-2), and the New York Mets in the World Series (4-1), giving Zobrist his first taste of a World Series title.

In the 2015 postseason he came up with key hits to help lead his team to victories.

On November 2, 2015, the day after the World Series ended, Zobrist became a free agent for the first time in his career and after being traded on three different occasions, he now had the opportunity to control his own destiny. But his decision would not be a long one and wouldn’t be dragged out, as he signed a four-year deal with the Chicago Cubs for $56 million dollars, which was his biggest contract so far of his career.

The signing would prove to be a great move for the Eureka, IL native as he became an all-star this past summer for the third time in his career while batting .272, with 31 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs and 76 RBI’s in 147 games.

After already winning a World Series, the hope for the Cubs faithful would be that he could bring the experience to help Chicago finally get over their long suffering World Series drought.

In 2015, the Cubs came one series win from advancing to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1945, but lost to the Mets in four straight games to go home empty again.

But the 2016 season would be a magical one for this club and their new-found hero. Zobrist struggled in the first two rounds of the 2016 postseason batting just .188 (3 for 16) against the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS, and just .150 (2 for 20) in the NLCS against the Dodgers. But he showed up when it mattered the most, in the Cubs first World Series in 71 years.

Against the Cleveland Indians, Zobrist batted .357 (10 for 28), two doubles, a triple and two RBIs and seemed to be in the middle of every big inning the Cubs would have on their way to clinching the title.

In the winner take all Game 7 in Cleveland, Zobrist came up with two men on in the top of the 10th with the game tied at 6-6, and doubled on a ground ball to left field driving in the eventual winning run.

“I was just battling, grinding up there,” Zobrist told the media. “Fortunately that last one he left over the plate and up to where I could just slap it down the line, and that’s all I was trying to do.”

For Zobrist’s amazing series he walks away as the World Series MVP, while also adding to his World Series legacy.

David Conde

David Conde

Co-Founder/Executive Editor at Legends On Deck®
David is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck. He is a former Senior Editor for MetsMerizedOnline, MetsMinors.net and Contributor for Hardballchat.com. He is a native of Brooklyn, NY and a lifelong Mets and baseball fan. David coaches little league baseball so he can teach his two sons how to play the game he loves.David also has a hobby of taking sports photos which can be seen here on Legends On Deck.a

You can also reach out to David at daconde@legendsondeck.com
David Conde