Zack Cozart made his MLB debut just before the All Star break and has played in only 6 games with the Reds. Yet, in only 25 plate appearance, the young short stop has made an immediate impact. He has collected 10 hits (including last night’s homerun) and scored 5 runs, while beginning his MLB career with a 6 game hitting streak. Fans shouldn’t expect Cozart to continue at this pace (.400/.400/.520), but it is becoming clearer by the day that he is not over-matched by MLB pitchers.
It’s important to keep in mind that small samples are often misleading. The fact is 25 plate appearances, in a vacuum, tell us almost nothing about a player. Nonetheless, there are some encouraging signs in Cozart’s start. Young hitters often struggle make contact when they make the leap from the minors to the MLB. Contact has not been a problem for Cozart however. When Cozart swings the bat, he is making contact more than 91% of the time. In addition, when the pitchers have thrown the ball over the plate, Cozart is making contact 100% of the time. In other words, he hasn’t “whiffed” even once this year on a pitch in the strike zone.
As noted above, all of this must be taken with a grain of salt. It’s far too early to draw any conclusions about Cozart’s ability to hit. Still, it is encouraging to see a young hitter making consistent contact, especially considering the lack of production the Reds have seen from the short-stop position in recent years.
Perhaps most amazing is the fact that Cozart has already posted a better WAR and UZR than Edgar Renteria this year. WAR (wins above replacement) and UZR (ultimate zone rating) are both stats that accumulate with more playing time. Therefore, it is often unfair to compare WAR and UZR when players have a significant disparity in playing timing. The guy with more playing time is likely going to have a better WAR or UZR, simply because he’s had more time to accumulate production. With that in mind, consider this: Zack Cozart, 0.6 WAR /2.0 UZR… in 6 games. Renteria has posted a 0.3 WAR and 0.0 UZR in 51 games. Basically, Cozart has doubled Renteria’s total value this year in only 6 games.
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