By Josh Kramer
Rich Aurilia. Felipe Lopez. Alex Gonzalez. Paul Janish. Edgar Renteria.
What do all of these guys have in common? They all played shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds at some point during the years of 2005 to 2011. Even avid Reds followers probably had to think hard to remember that some of these players suited up at Great American Ball Park at one point or another.
The Reds were the first professional baseball team and are a historically rich franchise that unfortunately has struggled to find a glimmor of consistency since the days of the Big Red Machine. As most baseball connoisseurs are well-aware, the shortstop is the captain of the infield, and typically a team leader. During the glory days of the Big Red Machine, Cincinnati had good old Dave Concepcion. From the mid 1980s up until 2004 (right after Concepcion), Cincinnati was privileged to have the services of recently announced Hall-of-Famer Barry Larkin. It was 35 years of bliss in terms of the shortstop position for Cincinnati Reds fans (1970-2004). For the past seven years, no adequate replacement has been found for Larkin. That is, until now.
The current shortstop for the NL Central favorite Cincinnati Reds this year is youngster Zach Cozart. Cozart had a brief 11-game stint with the big club during a very disappointing 2011 campaign for the Cincinnati Reds. Unless you are a Reds fan or an extremely avid follower of the MLB, you were probably unaware. The glimpses of stardom that Cozart demonstrated last July was apparently no fluke.
Cozart is off to a blistering start in which he is currently batting an astounding .370. Please take note that heading into play yesterday he was batting .455, good for second best in the entire National League. The 26-year-old from Memphis is leading the Reds in batting average, hits, and on-base-percentage. In addition, he has an unblemished fielding-percentage of 1.000 (0 errors on the year). The youngster has a big bat. A very solid glove. And an overall exciting demeanor. It appears Cincinnati has found a solution at shortstop.
Now Cozart is bound to cool off at some point. There is a reason why no MLB player has batted .400 since Ted Williams did in 1941. I may be getting way ahead of myself considering we are only eight games into the season. But I get a good vibe when I watch this guy play. He seems to genuinely enjoy being at the ballpark. With Phillips and Votto locked up for at least another six years, we could be witnessing the beginnings of possibly the best top of the order in the MLB.
Cozart is off to a heck of a start.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.