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BCB After Dark: Battle of the Z-Titans

The avant-garde club for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks who would win in a 5-game series between Carlos Zambrano and Ben Zobrist.

Chicago Cubs v Chicago White Sox

It’s another night at BCB After Dark: the members-only club for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Lucky for you that you have your membership dues all paid up. No dress code tonight. Come in and get warm. Please excuse the clutter, we’re remodeling. Bring your own beverage.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

Last night I asked you who would lead the Cubs in RBI in 2022. This assumes that there is a 2022 season, but stick with me. In the end, Frank “The Tank” Schwindel was the runaway winner with 46 percent of the vote. Willson Contreras was second with 18 percent and “Someone else” got 16 percent.

On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I don’t do a regular movie essay but you can go back to last night and read about 1940’s The Great McGinty if you’d like. But I always have time for some jazz so if you want to skip that, now is the time. You won’t hurt my feelings.

I really need to calm my nerves a lot these days so we’re going to get real mellow and real “seventies” tonight with the Ramsey Lewis Trio covering the Seals and Croft soft rock classic “Summer Breeze.” This video appears to be from West German television in 1973. The song, the music and the shirt that Lewis is wearing all scream “seventies.” But I will say that I like this version of the song better than the Seals and Croft original.

Welcome back to those of you who skip the jazz.

Tonight we’re giving you a magic machine that can clone any Cubs baseball player of the past. Except that it’s not working right and it will only clone Carlos Zambrano and Ben Zobrist. You’ve made 25 copies of each player.

So what are you going to do with these players? Of course, you’re going to have them face off in a five-game series! One team has 25 Carlos Zambranos. The other team has 25 Ben Zobrists. Which team is going to take the Z-Cup?

As you probably remember, Zambrano was a pretty good hitting pitcher. Over 744 plate appearances, Zambrano hit .238/.248/.388 with 24 home runs. OK, that doesn’t sound like that great of a line, but it’s pretty good for a pitcher. He won the Silver Slugger Award for the best-hitting pitcher three times. And in this game, he’s not going to have to hit off Randy Johnson or Roy Oswalt. Just Ben Zobrist.

Zobrist only pitched once in his career and it was actually the last thing he ever did as a player. On the final game of the 2019 season, he pitched the top of the ninth against the Cardinals. His final moment in baseball was striking out Yadier Molina swinging. In that inning, he walked two batters and allowed no hits. But let’s be clear. It was a blowout in the final game of the season and it was a meaningless game. No one was really trying all that hard.

So who would win this titanic battle? Normally you’d think a position player would have the advantage in a game against a pitcher, since most pitchers these days would probably struggle to hit even against a position player. But Zambrano was a legitimately decent hitter. He couldn’t take a walk, but maybe he could if it were someone like Zobrist who has a career 18.0 walks per nine innings in his career. It’s too bad for Zambrano that Zobrist is a right-handed pitcher—he hit lefties even better. (Both players were switch-hitters, but that won’t come into play here since they both throw right-handed.)

There is another thing to factor in here and it’s a big reason why I picked Zobrist for this experiment: defense. Zambrano could field his position well enough, but you’ve got to think he’d struggle to turn even an easy double play. Zobrist played every position but catcher in his career. Zambrano was a pitcher and pinch-hitter. The balls-in-play that Zambrano hits off of Zobrist have a better chance of being turned into outs than the ones Zobrist hits off of Zambrano.

Zambrano only faced Zobrist once in his career and Zobrist went 2 for 2 with a home run and two walks. But that was in 2012 when Zobrist was in his prime and Zambrano was just about finished. For our purposes here, assume that both players are in their prime. You’ve got the mid-aughts Zambrano that was a Cy Young Award candidate and the Ben Zobrist of the early-teens that was the guy that nearly every baseball writer called the most underrated player in the game.

So tell me, how is this five-game series going to end? Or just tell me in the comments that the lockout has finally driven me insane and that you’re calling the authorities.


Who would win in a 5-game series between 25 Ben Zobrist and 25 Carlos Zambranos?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Zambrano in 3
    (9 votes)
  • 23%
    Zambrano in 4
    (13 votes)
  • 9%
    Zambrano in 5
    (5 votes)
  • 16%
    Zobrist in 5
    (9 votes)
  • 21%
    Zobrist in 4
    (12 votes)
  • 12%
    Zobrist in 3
    (7 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now

Thank you again so much for stopping by. I hope you’ve been able to take your mind off your troubles for a while. Please get home safely. Tip the waitstaff. And stop by again tomorrow night for another edition of BCB After Dark.