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Lance McAlister

Reds: What do you do when your SS is hitting .139? Keeping playing him



(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Zack Cozart is hitting .139 with a .162 on-base percentage in 75 plate appearances this season. Among 168 ML players with at least 75 plate appearances, Cozart ranks 167th in batting average. Only Curtis Granderson and Carlos Santana (.137) rank lower.
Zack is actually making more contact than he has at any point in career. His rate of contact is 89.8, up from 81.5 last year and above the ML average of 81.5.
He has struck out just 11 times in his 75 plate appearances. But he has walked just once in those 75 plate appearances. In fact, Cozart has just two walks in his last 103 plate appearances and four walks in the last 177 plate appearances.
I'll admit there have been times he has swung at the 1st pitch or when ahead in the count, that I wanted to beat my head against a wall. He is seeing a team low 3.04 pitches per plate appearance. In fact, his pitches seen per PA have declined each year of his ML career:
Pitches per plate appearance:
2011: 3.84
2012: 3.79
2013: 3.66
2014: 3.04
Non-sabermetrics people won't want to hear this, but he has hit into tough luck this season. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP), is .150, 4th worst in MLB. The ML average is usually around .290. Cozart's career BABIP is .277. His luck is due to change, his average is due to bounce back.
I've said this before, I'll say it again. The Reds fortunes do not rest on how well Cozart hits. Very few teams go as their SS goes, when it comes to his offense. This isn't the Rockies and Troy Tulowitzki.
Cozart was T-10th in ML among SS last season wit 45 extra base hits. He had more extra-base hits than the likes of Jimmy Rollins and Jean Seagura. He's one of only two shortstops in Reds history with back-to-back seasons of 30+ doubles.
The Reds hope coming into this season was that he would parlay his strong second half of last season (.282 2nd half/.304 last 31 games) and a drop to the bottom of the order, into a better season in 2014. That can still happen.
I'd be willing to bet Cozart will wind up around .250, with 10-15 HR and play very good defense. He's the 8th place hitter. He's a SS.
Newsflash for his critics, armchair GM's and fantasy baseball players, there is no Plan B here. There is no trade to be made. There is no Triple-A promotion to be made. Barry Larkin 'aint coming through that door. The sooner fans realize that, that better off they will be.
The Reds won yesterday, took 3 of 4 in Pittsburgh, climbed back to the .500 mark and the ONLY calls I got about the Reds in three hours last night were about Cozart.
Chill. Relax. Focus. Heck, at this point Cozart is a stock that has bottomed out. Why would you sell low/bail now? Cozart will hit, just watch.

*****start poll*****
Poll: What would you do with Zack Cozart?
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