All-Star surprise: Zobrist
The Rays’ representative on the American League All-Star team is somewhat of a surprise – infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist.
Zobrist was chosen by AL/Detroit manager Jim Leyland as the Rays lone representative, a selection reflective of the importance of winning the game, as Zobrist is considered one of MLB’s most versatile players, a switch-hitter who can multiple infield and outfield positions, and well.
Third baseman Evan Longoria and starter Matt Moore both seemed more likely to be selected.
Zobrist was as surprised as anyone else, based on quotes distributed by the Rays.
“I was shocked,'' he siad. "I was really puzzled as to why I was coming into the principal’s office before the game. …When they showed me the envelope and said that Leyland had selected me as one of the guys to come off the bench possibly—it’s a huge honor.
"I don’t feel like I’ve necessarily played the way I’m capable of playing up to this point, but obviously I still feel like I can help the club win. And hopefully if we win that game, we could possibly make it to the World Series and that would give us home field advantage. It’s an important game still. I look forward to being there and seeing what I can do.”
Zobrist has had an up-and-down season thus far, going into play Saturday hitting .260 and second on the team with 44 RBIs but with only five home runs.
Manager Joe Maddon was pleased.
"I love the selection from the perspective that a complete game matters, it’s not just about batting average,'' Maddon said. "Ben personifies the complete baseball player and has done so year in and year out. It’s great to see him recognized for it.”
Zobrist was an All-Star in 2009, selected then by his own manager, Joe Maddon, and catching the final out.
This is the first time since the Devil Rays days of 2007 that the Rays had only one All-Star.
The Rays had several other candidates who seemed more likely selections based on their stats.
Third baseman Evan Longoria topped the list, as he led the team 17 homers and 49 RBIs, manager Joe Maddon saying he was the “obvious” choice. But Longoria’s bid was likely hurt by the number of top third basemen in the league.
Matt Moore, who took the mound Saturday with 11 wins, was another strong candidate. Several pitchers named to the team typically drop out because they are pitching on the Sunday before the break, so there is still a possibility Moore could be named as a replacement.