Thursday, March 7, 2013

2013 Reds predictions: Most Improved Player

Here we are on day four of our eight-part series, predicting the Reds season. Today, we will take a look at players who have a chance to show the greatest improvement from 2012. It was not an easy decision, but the votes came in from the Redlegs Review staff and a decision was made, sort of. It was a tie on this one.

The Most Improved Reds Players in 2013 will be...

@RedlegsWriter: To me, it's got to be Mesoraco. He had a very underwhelming year in 2012, playing in just 54 games while posting a .212 average to go with five home runs and 14 RBI. The hope was that Mesoraco would begin the transition to become the full time catcher, taking the reigns from Ryan Hanigan, but it was not meant to be. In fact, by the end of the season, he wasn't even playing for the Reds. He appeared in his last game for the big league club on September 10th and was left off the playoff roster in favor of the veteran Dioner Navarro. That must have been rather disappointing to Mesoraco.

This season, Miguel Olivo has been brought in to replace Navarro as a veteran presence at catcher and it looks like the backup catcher's role is up for grabs between him and Mesoraco. The younger catcher will have to fight for a spot on the major league roster this year and hopefully it sparks a fire under him. Mesoraco has been very highly regarded in this organization but potential can only take one so far. It's time for him to show performance closer to what he did in 2010 and 2011 in the minors: .302-.289, 25-15 HR, 75-71 RBI. His defense has never been a worry so he's good there. Mesoraco has no where to go but up after last season, and I fully expect that he will show tons of improvement in 2013.

@Redlegs_Review: Cozart certainly didn't have a bad season in 2012, but he did leave plenty of room for growth. After a brief audition at shortstop in 2011 before a shoulder injury derailed the rest of his season, the native Tennessean entered last season with the starting job to lose. And he played well enough to hang on to it for the entire regular season and into the playoffs. All in all, Cozart appeared in 138 games and posted a .246/.288/.399 slash line with 15 homers, 35 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 33 doubles. Not bad at all for a rookie shortstop, but as I mentioned before, he does have room to improve.

And improve he will in 2013. Cozart will no longer be forced to handle the leadoff duties after the Reds brought in Shin-Soo Choo, Cozart struggled mightily out of the No. 1 slot last year as evidenced by his .223 average and .262 on-base percentage in 471 plate appearances. The 27-year-old can now be slid down to seventh or eighth in the batting order, which should take a tremendous amount of pressure off of him, and also allow Cozart to see more pitches to hit. One area Cozart really needs to improve upon his OBP. An on-base percentage under .300 isn't going to suffice in the majors long-term no matter where you hit in the order. Hopefully having a full big league season under his belt will help him cut down on the strikeouts in 2013 and increase his walk total. I expect Cozart's numbers to improve in his sophomore campaign.

Honorable mentions go to Mike Leake and Hanigan who each received a vote.

And in case you want to look back on a prior post, or just want to look ahead...

2013 season predictions schedule:
Monday: Offensive MVP
Today: Defensive MVP
Wednesday: Pitching MVP
Thursday: Most Improved
Friday: Top Newcomer
Saturday: Player Poised for Breakout Year
Sunday: Top Youngster
Monday: Potential All-Stars

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