AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps – Cozart scores his first MLB run

The Cincinnati Reds boosted their offense without sacrificing much defense when they “acquired” Zack Cozart from the Louisville Bats last week for Paul Janish.

The Reds have gotten just very little offensive production at shortstop this season from Janish and Edgar Renteria, who have posted a combined .277 OBP and a .272 SLG percentage. That is significantly below the National League average shortstop’s .675 OPS and currently ranks dead last among NL shortstops.

Cozart was having a very solid season in his second year at the AAA level, batting .310 with a .357 OBP and .467 SLG percentage. After a slow April start (.615 OPS), he has posted an OPS over .900 in each of the next two months. On the season, Cozart has hit righties (.869 OPS) better than lefties (.759 OPS).

Zack has a career minor league slash line of .270/.332/.421. He’s been consistently around those figures in the upper level of the minors, as outlined in the table below.

2009 23 AA 541 0.262 0.360 0.398 0.758
2010-11 24-25 AAA 960 0.275 0.327 0.435 0.762
2007-11 21-25 total 2166 0.270 0.332 0.421 0.753

John Sickels wrote about Cozart Wednesday in his “prospect of the day” series. His conclusion:

Cozart had nothing left to prove in the minors, and promoting him to the major leagues was the right move. I’m personally on the optimistic side about him, and while I don’t expect him to be a star, he should provide solid defense with enough power and speed contributions to stay in the lineup, even without a gaudy batting average.

The full article is definitely worth a read. John analyzes Cozart’s path through the minors, which always includes both statistical and scouting information.

Cozart’s ZIPS projection for the rest of the season, courtesy of fangraphs, projects a .240/.293/.383 line at the major league level. That OPS would match the current league average shortstop. I believe that projection is a bit pessimistic, and I would project something along the lines of .310 OBP/.390 SLG. Not a huge difference, but a .700 OPS would rank as the 6th best offensive shortstop in the National League.

Using baseball musing’s lineup tool, I took the Reds 1st half statistics, and replaced the shortstop production with the range of possibilities for Cozart. The Reds expected run production over the rest of the season in this scenario is an extra 10 runs, which is worth about 1 win. Over the course a full season, an OPS of .675-.700 from Cozart would boost the offense by approximately 20-25 runs, or two to two and a half wins.