Ben Zobrist says he now knows how it feels like to be Sam Fuld – Fuld, the Rays current leftfielder and leadoff hitter has been leading the team in ESPN web gems for his ‘superman’ like defense and offensive bursts in the past couple of weeks.
Zobrist, while he’s had a few defensive gems of his own, his ESPN web gems have been associated not based on his defensive plays, but his offensive outburst primarily from a six game span that included a doubleheader career day last Thursday against the Minnesota Twins.
For his offensive outburst, Zobrist on Monday was named the AL Player of the Week for the week ending May 1, and in winning the honor he become the third Rays’ player to win the award in consecutive weeks joining Johnny Damon (Co-winner – week 1) and James Shields (week 2).
The doubleheader twin killing for Zobrist included 2 home runs, 10 RBIs, 5 runs scored and a 7-for-10 day at the plate. In the Twins series, Zobrist finished going 8-for-14 (.571) with 3 doubles, a triple, six runs scored and 13 RBI – the most RBI in a three game set in the majors since 2004.
“I’m just trying to have good at-bats,” he said. “My swing feels great right now, which I think is a big kind of confidence lift for me,” said Zobrist.
In game one of the double header against the Twins, Zobrist knocked in eight runs setting not only a career high but also setting a new team record that had previously been held by Carlos Pena (7 – 2007) and were also the most in a game since Toronto’s Adam Lind in August, 2009.
His record setting twin-bill killing marked the fifth consecutive game in which Zobrist had at least two RBI and his 18 RBIs over that stretch marked the most for an American League player since Reggie Jackson’s 18 RBI in June 1969. The doubleheader’s 10 RBI were the most for a twin bill since St. Louis’ Mark Whiten had 13 RBI on September 7, 1993 at Cincinnati.
Zobrist, who finished eighth in the MVP voting in 2009 for his .291 average, 27 home runs and 91 RBIs, had a very disappointing 2010 season which was marred with a lingering neck injury that saw his numbers fall drastically. Zobrist hit just 10 home runs with 75 RBI and his average dropped to .238.
Looking to rebound from last season, so far 2011 is off to a good start as he’s leading the team in most offensive categories. His seven home runs, 25 RBI, 9 doubles, 20 runs scored and 18 extra-base hits lead the team and is third on the team with five stolen bases. Also, his 25 RBIs lead the American League.
“He’s not quite at ’09, but he’s better than ’10 in some ways. When he’s seeing his fastball, he’s not missing it pretty much. And I still think there’s room for improvement there,” Maddon said.
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