Aug 21, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart (2) throws to first base during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Reds defeated the Phillies 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Reds vs. National League Shortstops: Zack Cozart vs. Tulowitzki, Ramirez and Rollins


This is the fifth installment of my series of articles which pits the Cincinnati Reds against the best of the National League.  The first was with the catchers.  In the second piece I compared the first basemen in the league against Joey Votto. You can read it here. The third article was with the second basemen in the league being pitted against Brandon Phillips. That column can be found here.

The last article I did was with the third basemen. We saw that Todd Frazier is in over his head at this point in his career, with regards to the league’s best.

Now we focus on the shortstops. The Reds have had a long line of excellent players at that position. I wrote a piece about how they have essentially used four shortstops from 1954 until 2004. After trying several wannabe’s they have finally given the keys to Zack Cozart. You have to love a guy with more than one ‘z’ in his name.

After looking over the elite shortstops in the senior circuit I narrowed Cozart’s competition down to five. They are Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Starlin Castro, Ian Desmond and Jimmy Rollins.

Career Stats Based on 162 Game Avg.

except errors and WAR which are yearly averages

Stats extracted from Baseball-Reference.com

1 2 3 4 5 6
YRS 2 7 8 3 4 13
PA 694 692 710 696 653 745
RUNS 85 103 112 81 72 107
HITS 163 179 188 193 163 183
XBH% 8.5 9.9 9.7 7.8 8.3 8.7
HR 18 28 25 10 17 17
RBI 41 102 84 67 70 72
SB 4 12 38 21 23 36
K/BB 3.84 1.64 1.75 2.67 3.83 1.51
AVG 251 292 298 297 271 270
OPS+ 82 117 128 106 99 97
ERRORS 7.0 7.7 14.8 27.7 19.0 9.6
WAR 1.5 3.7 3.3 2.6 1.3 3.1

1-Cozart 2-Tulowitzki 3-Ramirez 4-Castro
5-Desmond 6-Rollins

Obviously Cozart is absolutely steamrolled by the competition. The others on the list are extremely good. The first thing that jumps on me is that Rollins OPS+ is only 97. Wow! A four-time All-Star, MVP and Gold Glove winner yet he falls below the line of credibility in the National League offensively. After having said that, the table shows that he leads the bunch in plate discipline. Cozart does seem to have a slight edge defensively, in terms of errors committed per year.

It would be a close call to make as far as the best is concerned, but if I were pushed to a decision I would have to go with Ramirez first, then Tulowitzki. Troy has a better WAR and his power is better. However, shortstops aren’t required to supply all the power, Ramirez steals more bases, scores more runs and gets more hits. Also his OPS+ is much higher than the rest of the group.

Cozart would be at the end of this list, and it would be unfair to say that he is the sixth best in the league because he is not.

The bottom line is that the National League wins again against the Reds. NL now leads 4-1.

Next stop will be comparing the left fielders.

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