Kozma among lead leaders on defense at SS

A lot is being said about the Cardinals defense in that they make the routine plays and make up for a lack of range by good positioning on defense.  That’s fine, but it’s selling Pete Kozma a bit short.  When talking about the Cardinals on defense, the general consensus is that only Yadier Molina is a plus defender.  Molina is in another world at his position defensively, and we all know it by watching him routinely.  What the stats are saying here at the halfway point in the season is that the Cards have another very good defender, and that’s Kozma.  Matt Carpenter is doing more than holding his own at 2B, but that’s a subject for another day.

Last week, I thought the things I said about Jon Jay were spot on.  The stats and the eye test both tell us that Jay is a below average CF’er.  In 2013, he’s been especially awful, both with the bat and the glove.  Jay is at the bottom of every list, and watching him day in and day out only confirms what the stats say.  Having a good defensive club up the middle (C, SS, 2B, CF) is going to win teams a lot of games if they have the good pitching to go with it.  The Cardinals have most of that covered, but because of Kozma’s recent struggles with the bat, fans are calling for the wrong player to be upgraded.

Here’s how Kozma ranks among NL shortstops in 2013 so far:

UZR: 5.7—3rd (Simmons is 1st at 9.9)

UZR/150: 11.9—3rd (Simmons is 1st at 19.4)

RngR: 2.4—4th (Simmons is 1st at 7.6)

Out Of Zone (OOZ): 45—2nd (Segura is first at 55)

Revised Zone Rating (RZR): .869—2nd (Tulowitzki is first at .888)

Most of the advanced defensive metrics put Kozma right there with Andrelton Simmons of the Braves and Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies.  Kozma has about the same numbers across the board as Yunel Escobar of the Rays, and it’s a tossup between Escobar and Stephen Drew for the best defensive SS in the AL right now.

I know many fans are calling for Ryan Jackson because of Kozma’s struggles at the plate.  I guess I’m in the minority, but I want to see the Cards ride out the rest of the year with Kozma and see how he responds and what his numbers look like at the end.  Having a good glove up the middle isn’t something that’s easy to trade for and I hope the folks that wanted John Mozeliak to trade for Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera know that they are among worst defensive SS’s in the game.  Lowrie is dead last by the numbers.

If the Cards are going to make an upgrade, I would again suggest that the player to try and upgrade is Jay.  You may not like Kozma’s bat, but Jay isn’t doing any better on offense and with his below average defense he’s the one player hurting the Cards more than any other right now.

The Cards must know something about Jackson that we don’t.  If they really thought he could handle SS better than Kozma, he would have been here by now.  As long as the Cards SP’s keep getting weak grounders, I want Kozma in there and I’ll take whatever he can give from the 8 hole.  When he’s hitting .190, it may be time to try something….maybe.  Until then, there’s no need to make a move.  The Cardinals should view Kozma the same way the Giants do Brandon Crawford.  Kozma’s numbers on offense right now are almost identical to what Crawford did for the Giants in 2012.  The only difference is that Kozma is actually a better defender.  The Giants aren’t making a change with the 26 year old Crawford who won them a championship behind their dominant pitching, and the Cards should stick with the 25 year old Kozma and play it the same way.

  • ceeza

    you would be wrong.. There is no one behind Jay yet so he has to stay.. An outfield trade is dumb because we’ll have a log jam in outfield next year even if we don’t bring Beltran back. We actually have too many bodies we’re just waiting on taveras.. Holliday, taveras, and Craig in the OF next year .. Matt Adams at 1b.. When Craig plays 1b then jay comes off the bench as the 4th outfielder like it should be.. Boom. That’s not even considering the possibility of bringing Beltran back, which i think we shouldn’t, but there is always a chance.. On to Kozma.. He is not the solution or the stop gap.. Eye test tells me he has the range of a fire hydrant just like Jay.. and Like jay in if Kozma gets to it he gloves it so it keeps him his job. Screw the numbers.. Kozma looks average in the field at best and like a Springfield Cardinal at the plate at best. Descalso who will make more errors will also get too many more balls so to me it’s a push.. They’re both not the answer obviously but until Ryan jackson is freed we need Descalso’s hot bat over Kozma.. We simply cannot have a dead hitting hole in the 7 8 9 spots the rest of season.. Kozma and Jay’s bats are bad real bad.. It looks like they don’t believe in jackson because he should have been getting spot starts at SS for weeks but Wigginton is holding that roster spot hostage.. Jackson should get a chance even though the bats cooling off he’s still hitting over .300 but if they don’t like him then the only solution is to make a trade for a real SS and try to make a real run at the Chip… Heck throw Jackson in as part of the deal.. All i know is Kozma cannot be are SS if we want to get our 12th ring..

  • JD Norton

    Ceeza,

    The numbers don’t lie. If you think Kozma is bad defensively, then you also think Tulowitzki and Simmons are bad. I suggest you look at the numbers and make a case based on them rather than to just say screw the numbers. Kozma is having a tough time with the bat, but the point of the article was about his defense. Jay, on the other hand, is among the worst CF’ers in the game defensively. Whether you like or not, defense does matter up the middle.

    I also made the case the last week about Taveras in CF, but with his injury, the Cards need to look for someone in CF for the playoffs over Jay for this year. If that’s a rental, so be it. You’ll see that article just 2 below this one under my area of the blog.

    • ceeza

      Taveras won’t be ready to play CF until next year and even then he’ll probably be a liability as he only really feels comfortable on the corners.. That’s why Jay is our only option this year. and I don’t need numbers to tell me jay has no range and no arm because I see it everyday.. He can’t hit either but He does however make no mistakes.. He hasn’t made an error since ever. He’s still terrible though.. What the numbers can’t truly accurately quantify is range in Kozma no matter what you say.. Kozma doesn’t have any.. Eye test is all you need when it comes to range. Brendan ryan on the other hand, who I was no huge fan of, has range for absolute days. Furcal has range for days .. Making the solid play is not range.. His defensive isn’t great enough to make up for his non bat.. Descalso is hitting over .300 for May and June in limited action and should get more at bats until he cools off .. Do those numbers matter or do you like the black hole that is our 7 8 9 spots in the batting order? My point is Kozma is not great but solid defensively but with no bat he has to go.. We actually have options at SS unlike at CF.. Descalso with the hot bat or I dunno freeing ryan jackson or we can make a trade.. The log jam Taveras creates in the OF next year makes a 1 year move impossible at CF or Of for that matter..

    • ceeza

      .240 batting average.. THE NUMBERS DON”T LIE.. get a freaking clue.. sick of you guys throwing goofball stats out there to defend him. He’s a back up SS not a starter..

    • ceeza

      pete kozma has 20 hits in his lat 103 at bats.. Garbage!!! oh but if he actually reaches the ball he makes the play so its all good.. garbage..

      • JD Norton

        Ceeza,
        If every player that had a slump was garbage, MLB wouldn’t exist. You obviously have an agenda against Kozma, so there’s no changing your mind. I’m not going to respond to insults like the ones below often. You can play couch GM all you want, but I’m sure Mozeliak doesn’t have conversations with Matheny and tells him to “get a freaking clue” as you put it. You’re overlooking the importance of defense at SS, but I’m sure you know that. I also said that if Taveras was healthy I would put him in CF, so maybe you have trouble reading, I don’t know.

        • ceeza

          Don’t mean to keyboard rage.. Watching a dead hole in the lineup and our teams struggles got the better of me . You seem to be a numbers guy so let me give you some numbers.. Before being called up last year Kozma was hitting .232/.292/.355 in the minors.. that’s atrocious.. This season in the pros he is .240/.292/.355.. That is also atrocious. He’s batting .200 in his last 100 at bats.. It is who he is and all he will ever be.. Ryan Jackson on the other hand is .307/.386/.355 currently.. That is astronomically better than any year Kozma put up in the minors ever.. I’m not overlooking defense but Jacksons defense is not a liability like Descalsos is at SS. Ryan Jackson is graded overall much higher than Kozma and always has been.. Kozma has a slightly better glove but an an overall ball player it’s not even close.. They both got called up last year and Kozma went bananas hot and Jackson did not. This is why we are saddled with Kozma. A hot post season but he’s come back to earth as the .200 hitter he’s always been.. Free Ryan jackson.. Speaking of Taveras he will never be a CF.. If you’ve watched any Memphis you’d know he cannot play CF.. He looks lost and awful out there.. He’s a corner outfielder and the organization has not so quietly been admitting as much.. No harm because he’s gonna mash in left or righ field for years to come but we do now need a long term CF solution to go along with a SS solution..

        • ceeza

          Another fun Ryan jackson stat.. He’s .349 against left handed pitching this year in AAA. The Cardinals have had a problem hitting lefties all year..

        • ceeza

          More stats. Daniel Descalso starting at SS over Pete Kozma for the fifth time in six games. Descalso is batting .328/.366/.516 since June 1. Kozma .238/.292/.305 on season..

        • ceeza

          more stats. kozma is 19 for 116 .179 .210 OBP 3 BB 6 2B since June 1st that’s no good… Time for change no matter how good he is defensively .. free ryan jackson, paly DD, or time for a trade.. Jon Jay is not much better but there aren’t as many better options.. Certainly no one on team or in AAA.. CF trade market pretty bare as well. Not the case with SS..

        • ceeza

          kozma is now officially 0 for his last 25.. batting average has now dipped below .230 to .229.. yikes.. Stats.

          • PitchersHitEighth

            I’m terribly confused. Are you a Pete Kozma fan?

          • ceeza

            I’m committed to my trollage on this issue.. Whenever someone brings up Kozmas defense “stats” to make a case for sticking with him it drives me mad. Every sportswriter in the country tried to use Allen Craigs defensive stats making him out to be a defensive liability as the reason for Freeman over him before the teams were named. That drove me mad too. Craigs no liability and Kozma is no Ozzie Smith. Some of those defensive stats are goofy.

          • JD Norton

            Good thing no other MLB players have ever been in a hitting slump.

          • ceeza

            0 for his last 27.. Kozma now has a none hit perfect game..
            Check his minor league stats also .. he slumped for 6 years down there.. guy is a .230 hitter max.

  • janrayewilliams

    In his first year as an opening day starter on a MLB team, Pete is doing his job successfully, learning every day, and focusing on becoming a better player defensively and offensively. Many young infielders, and catchers – Molina included, improve their hitting after a few years of focusing on defensive skills. The Cards pitchers depend on and trust Pete.

    Derrick Goold wrote about his value, along with that of Yadi and Matt C. in the PD. Good read. Hope he doesn’t mind my referencing it here.

    file://localhost/Users/janicewilliams/Desktop/Cards%20%20All%20they%20need%20is%20Glove%20%20%20Sports.html

    • JD Norton

      Thank you for your response Janray. I agree with you and I think a lot of people are making too little of how important defense is at SS.

  • JD Norton

    Very well said Janray!

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