Zack Cozart was seen as a huge candidate for major regression prior to the LA Angels signing him. However, after a solid Spring Training, he is showing no signs of taking a step back.
The LA Angels were originally going to sign Zack Cozart to play second base. After years of playing shortstop, Cozart had agreed to play second base alongside defensive phenom Andrelton Simmons.
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However, after the Angels jumped at the opportunity to acquire Ian Kinsler to from the Detroit Tigers, Cozart almost immediately agreed to play third. And thus, the best defensive infield in baseball was formed.
These players are proving they aren’t just Gold Glovers though. Simmons and Kinsler have had solid Springs. However, Cozart has impressed more than anyone. He has come in and played great defense (no errors in 87 innings) and been stellar at the plate.
After starting 0-10 at the plate, Cozart has gone 15-33, a .454 average. He has added seven extra-base hits with four doubles and three big flies, while also working five walks. He has a .417 OBP for the Spring, and has shown he has no plans of taking a step back towards the mean.
Cozart puts up numbers that could put him in the upper half of the lineup. However, with Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Albert Pujols locked in at 2-4, that is unlikely. Ian Kinsler is seemingly the bona fide leadoff hitter for the Halos, so Cozart will likely fall between 5-7 on most nights. While he deserves more at-bats there have been no complaints on his position in the order.
Cozart has yet to play a regular season game at third base, but that has not restricted him. With the Angels planning to utilize a six-man rotation, they will be missing an extra bench spot. Many assumed at least one would be used on a backup middle infielder.
However, Cozart played second base Thursday night against the Dodgers. That, along with the players sent to AAA by the Halos, all but guarantee he will be the backup middle infielder, with Luis Valbuena taking over third base if Cozart has to switch spots on the field.
Outside of his age, every number with Cozart screams star. However, he has put the Angels before him in every situation so far. Whether it means switching positions, being the backup for others, or hitting in the bottom of the lineup, Cozart has not said one negative thing. He will be the glue to Halos team this year, and the team will only go as far as Cozart takes them.