The two seasons that Zobrist led MLB in WAR were without a doubt his two best seasons. In 2009, he hit .297, 27, 91, duplicating his RBI totals with his totals in both walks and runs scored. His OPS for the season was .948 and his OPS+ was 147. Two years later, Zobrist hit a less impressive .269, 20, 91 with 46 3B. While that was not a bad season, it marked the start of the baseball community starting to overrate the ballplayer. In 2011, though he stole a career high 19 bases, he had just 77 walks, 14 and 15 less, respectively, than the two prior seasons. He would also score a career high 99 runs and have a career high 46 2Bs. But the OPS which was fantastic in 2009, dropped from .948 in to .844 in 2011 in two seasons. However, because of the boost he got from his defensive metrics, he led all of MLB in WAR in 2011.
While there is no reason to say that Ben Zobrist is a bad ballplayer, I have always felt he was overrated. Yes, he consistently has a good OBP and hits for power and average and plays good defense. He is the posterchild for the player that symbolizes manager Joe Maddon. At this moment, Zobrist has a 33.7 career WAR. I do not like to use the accumulated WAR as much as the average WAR per season, so his average WAR comes out to slightly less than 5.0 from the seasons of 2008-2014. Add in the fact that his 2009 and 2011 wins above replacement numbers were 8.6 and 8.7 respectively, his WAR value is nothing like it has been stated. Take out his 17.3 WAR over the 2009 and 2011 seasons, his wins above replacement is just a cumulative 18.1 over the course of the other most recent 5 seasons (for those who like to use the cumulative WAR stat), including 2.2 for the 2014 season.
If the WAR thing did not convince you that Ben Zobrist is overrated, his career stats should. We are talking about a .263 career hitter with an OPS of .786. Is that what we expect from the best player in baseball? The fact that Zobrist has a 91 OPS/ BA is an impressive stat, but it loses merit when the player has just a .263 BA. He is still a very defensive 2B, but he has yet to win a Gold Glove Award. And I don't discount Maddon's defensive positioning as a reason all the Rays players generally play better defense. Zobrist is good enough to be a regular player on a MLB team. And with the trading deadline approaching, it is no surprise that as many as three teams are interested in trading for his services. However, I think the Rays are aware of the fact that Zobrist was an entirely different player in 2009 and 2011 than he has been every other year he has played. They are also aware that the sabermetric community still thinks Zobrist is Joe DiMaggio. I bet they are banking on another team's analytics department being more into the pop player than the good one.