by: Sara Spurr
Zack Cozart celebrates his 27th birthday today in Chicago as the Reds take on the Cubs for the last of a four game series. Although this weekend hasn’t exactly been huge for Cozart, he did manage to steal three bases yesterday in the Reds’ win and hit a homerun on Thursday.
Here at Redlegs Review we’ve done our best to convince you that Todd Frazier deserves to be the National League Rookie of the Year, but we should also sing the praises of the Reds’ other ROY candidate, Zack Cozart. Cozart currently leads NL rookies in multi-hit games (30, tied), runs (60), total bases (176) and extra-base hits (40). He also now holds the record for most home runs (13) by a Reds rookie shortstop (Billy Myers previously held the record with 5).
We’ve seen Cozart turn some great plays at shortstop and such defensive talent was not developed overnight; he received a lot of positive attention throughout his time in the minor leagues, starting with his first year with the Dayton Dragons in 2008 where he was named the best defensive shortstop for the Midwest League.
The Reds were aware of what they had as he progressed through the minors and into his first games with the Reds; his 11 appearances and 9 starts in 2011 were full of highlights, specifically because he began his career with a 7-game hitting streak, the longest by a Reds rookie in ten years (Adam Dunn, 7 games, 2001).
Because Cozart’s rousing debut in 2011 was cut short by his Tommy John surgery, his 2012 season is indeed his rookie year. While the Reds are fortunate to have two players vying for ROY votes, the club benefits more from having a sure thing at shortstop. Taking the field next to Brandon Phillips, Cozart has proven himself to be confident and able as a defensive player. As he continues to grow and mature, the team is looking to him for some energy at the top of the lineup.
Batting at the top of the order today, let’s hope Cozart celebrates his birthday with a big W today in Chicago.
Completely unrelated to his performance on the field: Zack Cozart seems like a really nice guy. (I met him during Season Ticket Photo Day.)