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Thread: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

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    Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    The MLB trade deadline is only days away, and Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart's offensive troubles have fans wanting the team to make an upgrade at the position. However, Cozart's struggles have been overblown this season.

    There's no denying that Cozart has plenty of room for improvement. His struggles, especially while batting second, have hurt the team's chances to score runs.

    Cincinnati has two players, Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo, atop the NL rankings in on-base percentage. With those two in the first third of the lineup, Cincinnati has been hoping for Cozart to hit better in between them.

    Many fans believe Cozart hits better when is in't No. 2. That's false. The 27-year-old hit .257 in the second spot compared to only .211 while batting seventh. He is also 0-for-11 when batting eighth this season.

    When left fielder Ryan Ludwick returns, he will likely bat sixth. Ludwick's return looks like it will force Cozart back to the second spot.

    Depending on how Ludwick does upon returning, he could move back to the cleanup spot and Brandon Phillips would go back to batting second, with Cozart moving back down.

    Cozart is hitting only .239 and has a .266 OBP, which makes him a bad fit for the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

    So why should fans lay off of the shortstop?

    Cozart swings at too many pitches, but he has a lot of pop in his bat.

    For all of the criticism Cozart has received this season, he continues to go out and give it his all.

    Despite a low overall average, Cozart has done well in certain situations. He is hitting .278 with the bases empty. Unfortunately his numbers dip once runners get on, but he has shown the ability to start rallies.

    He has also hit .288 with a .375 OBP when he's ahead in the count, including .326 on the first pitch.

    His offensive numbers don't look great, but he has done a good job of producing runs.

    Cozart has knocked in 36 runs this season, which is one more than he knocked in all of last season. He is also tied with three other players for the most extra-base hits (32) among all shortstops.

    He has some pop in his bat. The right-handed hitter has 23 home runs, 55 doubles and five triples since the beginning of the 2012 season. That ranks among the most at the position during that span.

    The shortstop is still learning the strike zone. In 95 games, he has 68 strikeouts—a number that is lower than most might think—but only 15 walks.

    He does swing at a lot of pitches out of the zone, and he needs to work on only swinging at strikes. The strikeouts aren't the problem. He doesn't walk much, and his pitch selection results in a lot of easy outs.

    He may never hit for a high average, but fans should be content with the power that he has shown so far. Not only does he get extra-base hits, but he is also one of the only players on the team who can consistently move runners over.

    Cozart is tied with teammate Bronson Arroyo and three other players for the most sacrifice bunts in MLB with 10. If he's going to struggle to get hits, at least he's doing his job when asked and moving runners over.

    He is also tied with another teammate, Phillips, for the most sacrifice flies in all of baseball.

    Those are often under-appreciated skills that are only brought up when a player can't get the job done.

    Not many shortstops in the league are as good as Cozart defensively. Like many young players, he still has some tough stretches on defense, but he has been solid in the field.

    Cozart and Phillips are arguably the best defensive middle infield in baseball. They can get to almost any ball and help their pitchers out.

    His slash line isn't impressive, but Cozart has shown promise with his ability to still be a productive player.


    Division rivals

    Cozart has received the majority of the blame—besides manager Dusty Baker, of course—for the team not being in first place of the NL Central.

    The Reds are currently in third place in the division but have a 4.5-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Wild Card race. No other team is within nine games of the Reds.

    If the Reds played in any other division, Cozart's struggles go unnoticed. Cozart is the victim of his team's success. The Reds are percentage points behind the Atlanta Braves for the third-best record in the NL.

    Cincinnati is in a tough division, so let's take a look at how the shortstops in St. Louis and Pittsburgh are performing.
    Name Team AVG R HR 2B 3B RBI OBP SLG
    Zack Cozart CIN .239 51 8 22 2 36 .266 .373
    Pete Kozma STL .242 31 1 15 0 31 .285 .300
    Clint Barmes PIT .217 12 2 9 0 10 .264 .290
    Jordy Mercer PIT .275 20 4 12 1 16 .333 .402

    The two Pittsburgh shortstops are batting a combined .245. Overall, the Pirates have a .224 average out of the shortstop position. Jordy Mercer has done a nice job lately and should continue to get playing time.

    Neither of the teams that the Reds are chasing have gotten much out of their shortstops. In fact, Cozart has put up better numbers than his division foes.

    Mercer has played in only 62 games this year, which is more than 30 games fewer than Cozart. Mercer has done well so far, but he still has to show that he can hit consistently. He hit only .210 in his brief time in the majors last year.

    Let's not forget that Cozart went on a hot streak to begin last season. It was a smaller sample size, but he was hitting .277 in the middle of May last year. It shows that a player like Mercer could be in store for a rough stretch as the league figures him out.

    The Cardinals and the Pirates have both posted better records with worse production out of their shortstops, so the Reds should be able to handle Cozart's low average.



    Conclusion

    Cozart needs to start hitting better for the Reds to make a serious run at the division. If he continues to struggle to hit for a decent average, it will be tough for the Reds to overcome a five-game deficit.

    As long as he continues to play great defense and move runners over, he is still helping the team more than he is hurting it.

    The teams ahead of the Reds are dealing with the same issue. However, they have been able to find other ways to win games. Clutch hitting has been the key for the Cardinals, and the Pirates have won with incredible pitching.

    The NL Central owns the top three rotations in baseball, so this race will come down to who has the most consistent offense. So far the Cardinals are winning the battle. A late surge by Cozart and third baseman Todd Frazier would change the division race.

    Cozart is only in his second full season and still needs time to adjust to major league pitching.

    Cincinnati is in position to make the playoffs, so the team doesn't need to make a huge move to try to upgrade at shortstop. Cozart has been much maligned this season, but he continues to do everything he can to help the Reds.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1...-are-overblown
    Last edited by Pacman Fever; 07-28-2013 at 10:31 PM.
    Hitler finds out the Royals signed Jonathan Broxton: http://www.yourepeat.com/watch/?v=hB...=youtube_gdata

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    Quote Originally Posted by Pacman Fever View Post
    The MLB trade deadline is only days away, and Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart's offensive troubles have fans wanting the team to make an upgrade at the position. However, Cozart's struggles have been overblown this season.

    There's no denying that Cozart has plenty of room for improvement. His struggles, especially while batting second, have hurt the team's chances to score runs.

    Cincinnati has two players, Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo, atop the NL rankings in on-base percentage. With those two in the first third of the lineup, Cincinnati has been hoping for Cozart to hit better in between them.

    Many fans believe Cozart hits better when is in't No. 2. That's false. The 27-year-old hit .257 in the second spot compared to only .211 while batting seventh. He is also 0-for-11 when batting eighth this season.

    When left fielder Ryan Ludwick returns, he will likely bat sixth. Ludwick's return looks like it will force Cozart back to the second spot.

    Depending on how Ludwick does upon returning, he could move back to the cleanup spot and Brandon Phillips would go back to batting second, with Cozart moving back down.

    Cozart is hitting only .239 and has a .266 OBP, which makes him a bad fit for the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

    So why should fans lay off of the shortstop?

    Cozart swings at too many pitches, but he has a lot of pop in his bat.

    For all of the criticism Cozart has received this season, he continues to go out and give it his all.

    Despite a low overall average, Cozart has done well in certain situations. He is hitting .278 with the bases empty. Unfortunately his numbers dip once runners get on, but he has shown the ability to start rallies.

    He has also hit .288 with a .375 OBP when he's ahead in the count, including .326 on the first pitch.

    His offensive numbers don't look great, but he has done a good job of producing runs.

    Cozart has knocked in 36 runs this season, which is one more than he knocked in all of last season. He is also tied with three other players for the most extra-base hits (32) among all shortstops.

    He has some pop in his bat. The right-handed hitter has 23 home runs, 55 doubles and five triples since the beginning of the 2012 season. That ranks among the most at the position during that span.

    The shortstop is still learning the strike zone. In 95 games, he has 68 strikeouts—a number that is lower than most might think—but only 15 walks.

    He does swing at a lot of pitches out of the zone, and he needs to work on only swinging at strikes. The strikeouts aren't the problem. He doesn't walk much, and his pitch selection results in a lot of easy outs.

    He may never hit for a high average, but fans should be content with the power that he has shown so far. Not only does he get extra-base hits, but he is also one of the only players on the team who can consistently move runners over.

    Cozart is tied with teammate Bronson Arroyo and three other players for the most sacrifice bunts in MLB with 10. If he's going to struggle to get hits, at least he's doing his job when asked and moving runners over.

    He is also tied with another teammate, Phillips, for the most sacrifice flies in all of baseball.

    Those are often under-appreciated skills that are only brought up when a player can't get the job done.

    Not many shortstops in the league are as good as Cozart defensively. Like many young players, he still has some tough stretches on defense, but he has been solid in the field.

    Cozart and Phillips are arguably the best defensive middle infield in baseball. They can get to almost any ball and help their pitchers out.

    His slash line isn't impressive, but Cozart has shown promise with his ability to still be a productive player.


    Division rivals

    Cozart has received the majority of the blame—besides manager Dusty Baker, of course—for the team not being in first place of the NL Central.

    The Reds are currently in third place in the division but have a 4.5-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Wild Card race. No other team is within nine games of the Reds.

    If the Reds played in any other division, Cozart's struggles go unnoticed. Cozart is the victim of his team's success. The Reds are percentage points behind the Atlanta Braves for the third-best record in the NL.

    Cincinnati is in a tough division, so let's take a look at how the shortstops in St. Louis and Pittsburgh are performing.
    Name Team AVG R HR 2B 3B RBI OBP SLG
    Zack Cozart CIN .239 51 8 22 2 36 .266 .373
    Pete Kozma STL .242 31 1 15 0 31 .285 .300
    Clint Barmes PIT .217 12 2 9 0 10 .264 .290
    Jordy Mercer PIT .275 20 4 12 1 16 .333 .402

    The two Pittsburgh shortstops are batting a combined .245. Overall, the Pirates have a .224 average out of the shortstop position. Jordy Mercer has done a nice job lately and should continue to get playing time.

    Neither of the teams that the Reds are chasing have gotten much out of their shortstops. In fact, Cozart has put up better numbers than his division foes.

    Mercer has played in only 62 games this year, which is more than 30 games fewer than Cozart. Mercer has done well so far, but he still has to show that he can hit consistently. He hit only .210 in his brief time in the majors last year.

    Let's not forget that Cozart went on a hot streak to begin last season. It was a smaller sample size, but he was hitting .277 in the middle of May last year. It shows that a player like Mercer could be in store for a rough stretch as the league figures him out.

    The Cardinals and the Pirates have both posted better records with worse production out of their shortstops, so the Reds should be able to handle Cozart's low average.



    Conclusion

    Cozart needs to start hitting better for the Reds to make a serious run at the division. If he continues to struggle to hit for a decent average, it will be tough for the Reds to overcome a five-game deficit.

    As long as he continues to play great defense and move runners over, he is still helping the team more than he is hurting it.

    The teams ahead of the Reds are dealing with the same issue. However, they have been able to find other ways to win games. Clutch hitting has been the key for the Cardinals, and the Pirates have won with incredible pitching.

    The NL Central owns the top three rotations in baseball, so this race will come down to who has the most consistent offense. So far the Cardinals are winning the battle. A late surge by Cozart and third baseman Todd Frazier would change the division race.

    Cozart is only in his second full season and still needs time to adjust to major league pitching.

    Cincinnati is in position to make the playoffs, so the team doesn't need to make a huge move to try to upgrade at shortstop. Cozart has been much maligned this season, but he continues to do everything he can to help the Reds.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1...-are-overblown
    Cozart is batting .237 and that is NOT acceptable. You can plug in all the situational stats you want but .237 is still .237. If he was the only one who carried that albatross around his neck, maybe we would be ok. But he isn't. He must do better and his struggles are NOT overblown. .237 is .237!!!!

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    Would love to see Reds pickup a veteran like Rollins or Young to help with the playoff run. I doubt it happens though. Hopefully Cozart can develop into a solid hitter the next few years.

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    We really need to stop putting our hopes on the development of a 28 year old ball player who cannot hit. I listened to it with Stubbs. If Cozart was 23, sure. 25 should raise concerns. But 27-28? They are what they are and the jury is in. Rollins would not help us but Michael Young definitely would.

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    Cozart's defense makes his hitting close to being acceptable, particularly when you consider that he does have a little power. I don't mind him on the team hitting down in the order (I really don't care if he hits better batting second, he still doesn't hit close to well enough to bat second.)

    Still, shortstop is one position the Reds could upgrade down the stretch. Eric Aybar might be available. I don't know that I'd overpay for a guy with a lifetime .318 obp, though. Personally, I'd rather have Jimmy Rollins as a short-term boost. I could see a change of scenery bringing a little surge. He doesn't get on base any better than Aybar now, but he did hit 20 plus home runs last years and could provide a little more value.

    otoh, Aybar's middle name is Johan, and that counts for something.

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    Got to stop posting entire articles, I think. Just a link and an except works fine.

    Oh and BTW, this article has some serious problems with sample size -- among other things.
    "I’ll kind of have a foot on the back of my own butt. That’s just how I do things.” -- Bryan Price, 10/22/2013

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    Cozart should not bat anywhere near the top of the lineup. Bat him 8th or 9th even when Ludwick returns.
    I don't know if the Reds can upgrade SS this season but I would hope they do so in the off season. After 2 full (almost) seasons and at 28, Cozart looks like a bench player to me. Also, he is not entirely to blame for the offensive woes, there are others not hitting. For the Reds to make a run, I don't think it is up to him to start hitting.

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    If Cozart's 237 is so troubling; then why no mention of Frazier at a mere 248. That is no better. Heisey at 218, Phillips at 258, Messoraco at 256.

    This team is not hitting up and down the lineup. Bruce is hitting 274. But, he is not consistent. He is either batting 500 for a week,or 100 for three weeks.

    Choo and Votto are it right now. If it weren't for our pitching we would be falling like a rock from the sky right now.

    Another thing is; Our right handed bats are not hitting left handed pitching. The Dodgers threw three against us and we lost all three, Baffling too me.

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    Quote Originally Posted by armybrat45103 View Post
    Cozart is batting .237 and that is NOT acceptable. You can plug in all the situational stats you want but .237 is still .237. If he was the only one who carried that albatross around his neck, maybe we would be ok. But he isn't. He must do better and his struggles are NOT overblown. .237 is .237!!!!
    .237 is about league average for SS. Not saying average is something we should strive to be, but the fact remains.
    Choo got it, dude.

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    Quote Originally Posted by Ohayou View Post
    .237 is about league average for SS. Not saying average is something we should strive to be, but the fact remains.
    That's right - plus it overlooks that BA is overrated anyway. Cozart's low OBP is the killer if you are looking for one. His slugging as a SS is good. Batting 8th he is an asset overall. Batting 2nd a liability. That means his value to the club comes down to the decision of where to bat him, which isn't on Zack. It is also valid to compare him solely to SS around the league. He comes off much better under that looking glass.

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    The focus is on him more than it would be because of the fairly pedestrian batting up and down the lineup outside of Votto and Choo. Case in point - the series in LA. Yes, the Dodgers have nice starting pitching...but losing 1-0 & 2-1 (and 4-1) when your starters are pitching very well against a solid lineup in LA is not what I'd call "run support"
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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    A lot of scouts said Cozart would be a low BA/decent power bat coming up from the minors. Been pretty accurate. I would like to get Rollins if we could.

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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    Quote Originally Posted by scotly50 View Post
    If Cozart's 237 is so troubling; then why no mention of Frazier at a mere 248. That is no better. Heisey at 218, Phillips at 258, Messoraco at 256.

    This team is not hitting up and down the lineup. Bruce is hitting 274. But, he is not consistent. He is either batting 500 for a week,or 100 for three weeks.

    Choo and Votto are it right now. If it weren't for our pitching we would be falling like a rock from the sky right now.

    Another thing is; Our right handed bats are not hitting left handed pitching. The Dodgers threw three against us and we lost all three, Baffling too me.
    Frazier has been brought up in other threads too. Not mentioned here because the title is about Cozart.

    Heisey was batting better for a while after the DL, and he doesn't play everyday.

    Phillips' average is acceptable given his average with runners on and his RBI numbers.

    Mesoraco was also hitting nicely after ASB. However, he is complained about too, but there are not many potential trades, signings, or call ups could improve his positon unlike the SS postion.
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    Re: Zack Cozart: Why Cincinnati Reds Shortstop's Offensive Struggles Are Overblown

    Quote Originally Posted by BungleBengals View Post
    Frazier has been brought up in other threads too. Not mentioned here because the title is about Cozart.

    Heisey was batting better for a while after the DL, and he doesn't play everyday.

    Phillips' average is acceptable given his average with runners on and his RBI numbers.

    Mesoraco was also hitting nicely after ASB. However, he is complained about too, but there are not many potential trades, signings, or call ups could improve his positon unlike the SS postion.
    I would say Phillips' numbers are not acceptable for a player who is supposed to be a cornerstone of this team. His RBIs are the only thing that stands out. Choo, Votto, and Bruce are the only regulars that are producing how one would expect. Frazier and Cozart would be acceptable on a team getting more consistency from the rest of the lineup due to their defense (although Cozart made me wonder last night).


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