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Thread: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

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    Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    I had an overly long post devoted to Cozart's hitting. I like Cozart and hope his hitting can improve. I've cut out some of the detail because it was way over long. But here are the high points -

    Cozart makes a lot of contact. He struck out 18.8% of the time, which is relatively low. He walked about 5% of the time, which is quite low. His rate of homers per fly ball is 8.8%, also low.

    In other words, Zack puts a lot of balls in play. Few homers, walks, Ks per plate appearance. High contact rate.

    Zach doesn't swing at too many bad pitches. Fangraphs shows us this in its plate discipline chart. So his problem is not swinging out of the zone, although his walk total is low.

    So what's the problem?

    Two things I see. First, bad luck. Cozart had a .282 BABIP which is quite low. No Red regular (except Rolen, who tied Cozart) had such a low BABIP last year.

    Secondly, Cozart hits too many fly balls. Phillips, the most comparable hitter in some respects, had 32.3% fly balls. Cozart had 38.3% fly balls.

    Since Cozart has a low homer to fly ball ratio, he can't hit so many fly balls. They mostly die out there. More line drives and ground balls would be better. (His line drive rate of 20 percent last year was similar to Phillips and Bruce, all could improve a bit. Phillips hits too many grounders, Bruce too many flies.)

    Hopefully, Cozart will overcome the bad luck part. Also, since he doesn't swing at that many bad pitches, his walk rate will hopefully improve. The major area for hitting improvement IMO is to stop hitting quite so many fly balls. Cozart's fly balls don't result in enough homers to justify the high rate.

    Still pretty long, but originally much worse.
    Last edited by Kc61; 02-21-2013 at 10:55 PM.

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    Member 11larkin11's Avatar
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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    A lot of the problems I saw with Cozart last year was pop ups. He seemed to pop up to short left about 10,000 times last year (maybe only 9,999). That seems to go with your fly ball deduction.
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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by 11larkin11 View Post
    A lot of the problems I saw with Cozart last year was pop ups. He seemed to pop up to short left about 10,000 times last year (maybe only 9,999). That seems to go with your fly ball deduction.
    Cozart's infield fly ball rate was 14.1%, quite high. Heisey's was higher, but Cozart's was the highest among regular starters on the Reds. Very good point.

    I also think Bruce hits too many fly balls. But at least Bruce can justify this as a home run hitter. (I think he'd be better all around with a better distribution of flies, grounders, line drives.)

    Votto's distribution of fly balls, grounders, and line drives must be great because the results are so great. Last year 30% liners, 38% grounders, 32% fly balls. Lifetime 25% liners, 41% grounders, 34% flies.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    18.8% is not a low strikeout rate. In fact, it was actually below average. Non-pitchers struck out just 16.8% of the time in 2012.

    I hope Cozart can improve, but scouts have never thought he had even an average hit tool. Combine that with his age, aggressive approach and I am doubtful he can see much improvement moving forward.

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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    18.8% is not a low strikeout rate. In fact, it was actually below average. Non-pitchers struck out just 16.8% of the time in 2012.

    I hope Cozart can improve, but scouts have never thought he had even an average hit tool. Combine that with his age, aggressive approach and I am doubtful he can see much improvement moving forward.
    I just ran Fangraphs K% for the leagues without pitchers in 2012 and got a 19.2% rate and an 80% contact rate. Cozart was better than both. And even if these numbers are off for some reason, the only Reds regular with a higher contact rate was Hanigan, and the only Reds regulars with a lower strikeout rate were Phillips and Votto. (Rolen was about even with Cozart in both departments.)

    But regardless of the stats, I think the "scouts" perception of Cozart at this point proves very little. I remember on RedsZone how the drafting of Cozart was blasted -- based on these evaluation write ups -- and the guy is now the starting shortstop, had a lot of extra base hits as a rookie, and was in the running for a Gold Glove.

    Cozart makes contact with the ball, had a low BABIP, and I for one think he will hit substantially over .700 OPS this year or, if not, then next. Which for a guy with his glove is very fine.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Kc61 View Post
    I just ran Fangraphs K% for the leagues without pitchers in 2012 and got a 19.2% rate and an 80% contact rate. Cozart was better than both. And even if these numbers are off for some reason, the only Reds regular with a higher contact rate was Hanigan, and the only Reds regulars with a lower strikeout rate were Phillips and Votto. (Rolen was about even with Cozart in both departments.)

    But regardless of the stats, I think the "scouts" perception of Cozart at this point proves very little. I remember on RedsZone how the drafting of Cozart was blasted -- based on these evaluation write ups -- and the guy is now the starting shortstop, had a lot of extra base hits as a rookie, and was in the running for a Gold Glove.

    Cozart makes contact with the ball, had a low BABIP, and I for one think he will hit substantially over .700 OPS this year or, if not, then next. Which for a guy with his glove is very fine.
    Low BABIP because he hits a ton of pop ups. Always has. That is the reason, specifically, that two scouts told me would keep him from hitting for an average at the MLB level.

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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    Low BABIP because he hits a ton of pop ups. Always has. That is the reason, specifically, that two scouts told me would keep him from hitting for an average at the MLB level.
    We agree there, he hits too many balls in the air, too many are pop ups. I didn't say he had no flaw.

    Just on the K% thing, I ran all MLB players with 300 PAs or more (that level keeps out the pitchers). Of 265 hitters, Cozart was number 131 (actually, tied for 128-132) in K%. So based on that, for a "regular" player, he's about average.

    My thing with Cozart is that he does make contact and according to Fangraphs he has reasonable strike zone judgment. With good coaching, that should turn into more walks and hits going forward. He will have to focus on the popup thing, agreed.

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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    I think history tell us, that when hitters reach Cozart's age, hitting wise they are who they are.
    ...the 2-2 to Woodsen and here it comes...and it is swung on and missed! And Tom Browning has pitched a perfect game! Twenty-seven outs in a row, and he is being mobbed by his teammates, just to the thirdbase side of the mound.

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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    Does anybody else think the amount of pop ups Cozart hits has to do with his swing? Compare his swing to Janish's and they are very similar. Janish also had a problem with popping everything up. Janish also had a problem with being really bad at hitting, though.
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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by reds44 View Post
    Does anybody else think the amount of pop ups Cozart hits has to do with his swing? Compare his swing to Janish's and they are very similar. Janish also had a problem with popping everything up. Janish also had a problem with being really bad at hitting, though.
    I've heard it said that some players at GABP develop an uppercut because of the tendency (conscious or not) to try and hit homers.

    I don't believe it's impossible for a player, even at Cozart's ripe age, to flatten out his swing. Hopefully he's working on this and, also, drawing more walks.

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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    As long as Cozart can pick it at short and produce some pop at the plate, I'm not concerned. His average will never be high, his OBP will never be anything to write home about. But if the guy can have 15 homer power with over 20 doubles every year, as long as a good glove, that's something a lot of teams would like to have.

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    I still think cozart can be jj hardy-lite. Which would be fine with me.

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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    Cozart has excellent baseball aptitude and instincts. I expect him to get better as a hitter, though not a whole lot better. Like so many hitters, he could use the whole field better -- I was surprised at how reliant he is on pulling the ball (he yanks a lot of balls down that 3rd base line).

    I thought Baker's comment about Cozart seeing more breaking balls this year was interesting. I don't remember Cozart doing a lot with breaking stuff last year -- looking forward to watching that in 2013.
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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    Offensively, I look for Cozart to approach Rollins' 2012 season of .250/.316/.427. His power and spot in the order mean he'll be pitched around when possible, boosting his obp.

    His first half numbers were acceptable for a defense-first guy-- a 710-ish OPS with a slugging of 410 isn't earth-shattering, but, if that's your worst offensive guy, your team should be more than acceptable and scoring runs in bunches.

    Cozart's main problem, IMO, is that he doesn't get into hitting spots all that often. He hits well in counts favoring the hitter, but has putrid numbers against when faced with pitcher's counts.
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    Re: Analyzing Cozart's hitting

    Cozart is a fne defender with some speed and extra base pop. His OBP is a little low, but it's at a position where a lot of guys have a low OBP. Until he loses a step or prices himself off the roster, the Reds are perfectly fine with him at SS. He's not a weakness and won't prevent them from winning.

    The Reds do need to be looking for somebody who they can develop for three or four years from now when Cozart's arb number really starts to increase and his range starts to decline, but I'd say they are set through 2015 or 2016. I'm only worried about SS until then if Cozart misses extended time.
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