Cincinnati Reds’ shortstop Zack Cozart is ready for his third straight first half breakout

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds’ shortstop, Zack Cozart, has had a pair of hot first halves of the season in 2015 and 2016.

In 2015 Cozart played 53 games before an injury to his knee ended his season.  He already had 9 home runs and 28 RBIs before the injury.  Cozart appeared well on his way to an All-Star appearance in his own ballpark, but the injury ended his season.

In 2016 Cozart had his best career ever.  He was healthy in the first half of the season.  He missed half of the games after the All-Star Game due to injuries.  Cozart was deserving of playing in the All-Star Game as well.

In the first half of 2016 Cozart hit 13 home runs and had 38 RBIs while batting out of the top two spots in the order.  He also batted .267 with a .316 OBP.  Those are both about 15 points higher than his career norms.

His most impressive month of 2016 was June.  He had five home runs and 14 RBIs in June last season.  He also scored 17 runs in 28 games that month.

After the All-Star break Cozart only batted .223 over 41 games.  He only played eight games in the month of September before shutting it down for the off-season.  This was the second year in a row that Cozart didn’t make it to the end of the season.

Cozart was rated as the top defensive shortstop in the National League in 2016.  Whether or not he will be able to keep up playing that good defensively is questionable, but he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down yet.  Right now, the only thing that appears to be holding Cozart down is his inability to stay healthy.

Zack Cozart has been planning his off-season to last an entire MLB season for the Cincinnati Reds in 2017.

Cozart has been the focus of several trade rumors including a deadline deal to Seattle that never happened, but he has had to focus on getting ready for the 2017 season.  Unlike training in season, Cozart has separated himself from his Reds’ teammates, instead spending time with his family.  The Reds had a few discussions about Cozart at the Winter Meetings, but nothing serious.

This is Cozart’s last year of arbitration eligibility.  He will have to hold off Jose Peraza to keep his starting shortstop position this spring.  Initially, it looked like Cozart may be in Seattle with the position Peraza’s to lose.  Then Arizona traded Jean Segura to the Mariners.

Even with an unknown location for 2017, Cozart has to get ready for the season.  He had reconstructive knee surgery in June 2015 after his great start to the season.  Then knee tendinitis shut him down at the end of last season in the same knee.

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When Cozart came to town for Redsfest, he checked in with the medical staff.  He has full clearance from the medical staff for the first time since his 2015 surgery.  Now Cozart has to be ready to last an entire season in 2017, even if he moves to another team after a hot start.