Despite having to suffer through Stephen Drew all year at second base, the feeling I get from most Yankees fans is that they think Ben Zobrist wouldn't be a real difference making acquisition. Maybe it's because Zobrist isn't a flashy player and is a little older, but Yankees fans should know how good this guy is from his days in Tampa Bay. Somehow, he is still so underrated.
Zobrist has played 60 games for the Oakland A's this season after recovering from a torn left meniscus in his knee. He has posted a .258/.347/.421/.768 slash line with a .334 wOBA and a 117 wRC+. That is only slightly below his career line of .264/.354/.428/.782 with a .343 wOBA and a 118 wRC+.
Zobrist also defends whatever position he is playing extremely well. He's the kind of player the Yankees love because he's a switch hitter who takes a ton of walks. Incredibly, he has put together four straight seasons with a WAR over 5.0 and three of those seasons it's been at least 5.6. That's about a five win improvement over what the Yankees have at second base right now over a full season.
Zobrist's BABIP is a low .265, so I would expect him to improve as the second half of the season continues because all his other peripherals are about what they usually are. Yankees second basemen this year have a .259 wOBA, a 59 wRC+ and a -1.8 WAR. How is Zobrist not going to make a huge difference? Yes, even if Rob Rensyder was given a shot at the every day job it would still be a big upgrade. He's the biggest upgrade the Yankees can make by far at this point.
The issue with committing to Refsnyder at this point is that it's just too big of an unknown for a team that seems like it has legitimate AL pennant aspirations Who else in the AL is scaring you? The Royals are very good, but look at their starting pitching. The Twins won't keep up this pace. Mike Trout is insane, but what else do the Angels really have other than Albert Pujols? The Astros are extremely young. The Tigers seem out of the picture. Everyone else in the AL East still can't put anything together consistently.
With all of that being said, this seems like a good year for the Yankees to go for it. Mike Axisa made this very good point on Twitter -- when can you expect Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to be this good again? That's all the more reason to pounce on the opportunity the Yankees have in front of them. So it's really no time to be experimenting to see if Refsynder can make it as a big league player. You still don't know if his bat will play in MLB, and even though he didn't make any major mistakes he didn't exactly look very smooth in the field.
The issue with Zobrist is that with his versatility pretty much every contending team could use him, so he isn't going to come cheap. Other than Aaron Judge and Luis Severino, everyone is pretty much on the table for me for Zobrist. If you read the tea leaves from Brian Cashman's comments after Refsnyder was sent down, saying he wants to keep all his options open screams trade to me. Perhaps trading for a second baseman, keeping Brendan Ryan as the backup shortstop and releasing Stephen Drew.
After two long years the Yankees have a chance at something big again and that's really exciting. They should make it even more exciting by bringing a real and professional second baseman like Zobrist to town.