Tampa's secret weapon - Ben Zobrist

Ben Zobrist is a multi-positional player, who is pounding the cover off the ball.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays have had a slew of injuries lately, including last night when "super soph" third baseman Evan Longoria pulled up lame running to first base, but somehow they have been able to stay close to the .500 mark (26-28 as I write this).

They have managed to rack up 300 runs, tied for the major league lead with the New York Yankees, with the help of lesser known players such as Jason Bartlett (.373, 32 runs, seven HR, 30 RBI, 14 SB, OPS 1.014) and Ben Zobrist (.305 with 24 runs, nine HR, 28 RBI, five SB and an OPS of 1.062) along with their more well-known teammates.

Currently Bartlett is on the disabled list along with Pat Burrell, Akinori Iwamura and pitcher Scott Kazmir. Add a hobbling Longoria to the list and the Rays offense will come down Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist.

We all know Crawford and Pena very well, but who you might ask, is Zobrist?

Zobrist is Tampa's secret weapon, judging by the fact that he is only owned in 62% of all leagues. He is a multi-positional player (eligible at 2B, SS, OF), who is pounding the cover off the ball. Following yesterday's action, Zobrist has the highest OPS of any second baseman or shortstop with at least 100 at- bats. That includes the likes of Chase Utley (1.001 OPS) or Hanley Ramirez (.981 OPS)!

This from a player who has never hit more than 12 home runs in a season or had an OPS over .844. In fact, his number of bats this season (128) is almost equal to any of his season totals between 2006-08. He has been batting sixth for most of the season, but with all the injuries, Zobrist might end up as protection for Pena.

Tampa has a tough stretch coming up with four games at New York and then three with the Los Angeles Angels. If they are going to hold their own, Zobrist will likely have to come up big. He'll be playing either shortstop or second base so he'll have to perform both with the bat and the glove.

For us fantasy owners, we only hope that he can keep it going. He's a great replacement for injured, ill or slumping players like Jose Reyes, Bartlett, Rickie Weeks, Jose Lopez, Dan Uggla, Troy Tulowitzki, Jhonny Peralta, or Rafael Furcal.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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