Tag: Zack Cozart

billy hamilton getty

Billy Hamilton dropped to eighth spot in Reds’ lineup


Billy Hamilton hit leadoff in all 136 of his starts last season and he had again served as the Reds’ leadoff man in his first 33 starts this season. But that will change in Sunday’s series finale against the Giants.

Hamilton, who’s carrying a .212 batting average and .264 on-base percentage through his first 151 plate appearances this year, has been dumped to the eighth spot in the Reds’ batting order. It’ll be his first time hitting there in his young major league career.

“I just thought it made sense to take a look at getting some of our higher on-base guys at the top of the order,” Reds manager Bryan Price told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. “Just try to get some guys on base for the middle of the order guys and take a little bit of the load off. There’s this whole thing we’re always saying with Billy, ‘You go, we go.’ It really shouldn’t be that way — when we’re going, it’s because we’re all going. Because we’re all doing what we need to be doing collectively well. I think it’d be really nice to have Billy doing some things down at the bottom, maybe helping set the table for the top of the order.”

Zack Cozart is at leadoff and Brayan Pena is batting second on Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati.

The best and worst MLB lineups have had to offer so far

Dee Gordon

This is a quick look at lineup spots by team through the first five weeks of the season, which have been the most productive and which have been the least. I’m just using OPS, so don’t take this as a study of any sort.

No. 1 hitters
1. Marlins – .894 (.422 OBP)
2. Cardinals – .894 (.387 OBP)
3. Rockies – .880 (.359 OBP)

league avg – .727 (.326 OBP)

28. White Sox – .580 (.287 OBP)
29. Reds – .500 (.233 OBP)
30. Athletics – .487 (.223 OBP)

The Marlins and Yankees are the lone teams getting a .400 OBP from the leadoff spot this year, and while that’s always been the ideal to shoot for, there’s hardly any chance of any team staying that high all season. Last year, only the Cardinals (.369) and Astros (.353) had even .350 OBPs from the leadoff spot.

No. 2 hitters
1. Reds – 1.084
2. Blue Jays – 1.001
3. Angels – .939

league avg – .751

28. Rangers – .560
29. Braves – .551
30. Brewers – .489

The Reds started off with Joey Votto batting second, and he was awesome, amassing an 1.173 OPS with a .474 OBP, six homers and 15 RBI in 17 games. So, of course, they dropped him back to third. Fortunately, Zack Cozart and Marlon Byrd have been pretty great in the two hole themselves, but that’s not going to last.

No. 3 hitters
1. Diamondbacks – 1.074
2. Cubs – 1.056
3. Dodgers – 1.045

league avg – .803

28. Nationals – .614
29. Rays – .557
30. Phillies – .515

The Diamondbacks are exclusively Paul Goldschmidt: he’s started all 32 games batting third.

No. 4 hitters
1. Mariners – 1.155
2. Nationals – .986
3. Royals – .975

league avg – .778

28. Twins – .608
29. Phillies – .576
30. Angels – .574

And the Mariners are all Nelson Cruz: he’s started every game in the cleanup spot and blown away the field.

What’s shocking, or at least would have been over the winter, is that this is the first of four appearances for the Angels in the bottom trio. The cleanup spot used to be Josh Hamilton’s. Now it’s 16 games from David Freese, 12 from Matt Joyce and five from Kole Calhoun (whom they much prefer hitting leadoff).

No. 5 hitters
1. Rockies – .949
2. Athletics – .949
3. Cubs – .846

league avg – .737

28. Angels – .614
29. Phillies – .588
30. Yankees – .576

Just because of the difference in hitting environments, Oakland’s .949 is more impressive than Colorado’s .949. They’re primary No. 5 hitter, Ike Davis, is at .867, but Stephen Vogt has provided quite a boost, with five homers in eight games batting fifth.

No. 6 hitters
1. Yankees – 1.023
2. Royals – .930
3. Dodgers – .869

league avg – .722

28. Cardinals – .549
29. Red Sox – .546
30. Reds – .535

The Yankees being dead last at No. 5 and way out in front at No. 6 is some sort of bizarre fluke. Brian McCann, primarily the No. 5 hitter, has a respectable .704 OPS in 21 games there, but Carlos Beltran (.407 in seven games) and Chase Headley (.435 in four games) have been horrible, dragging it down. On the other hand, both Beltran (.848 in nine games) and Headley (.824 in nine games) have been just fine as No. 6 hitters and they’re further bolstered by Chris Young (1.271 OPS, four HR in seven games) and Alex Rodriguez (2.528 OPS, three HR in three games)

No. 7 hitters
1. Dodgers – .933
2. White Sox – .828
3. Orioles – .787

league avg – .658

28. Red Sox – .434
29. Rangers – .425
30. Angels – .423

It’s the third of four appearances for the Dodgers in the top three. This one is truly a committee. Juan Uribe has started 15 of 32 games as a No. 7 hitter, but he has a modest .668 OPS. Alex Guerrero, Andre Ethier, Yasmani Grandal and Joc Pederson have combined for 15 starts and hit .444 with five homers in 54 at-bats.

Boston, which entered the year with seemingly the game’s deepest lineup, shows up near the bottom for the second straight spot, courtesy of Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Allen Craig. Their No. 7 hitters have combined for seven RBI in 33 games, five of them coming in Daniel Nava’s six starts.

No. 8 hitters
1. Reds – .932
2. Dodgers – .898
3. Marlins – .846

league avg – .673

28. Diamondbacks – .474
29. Angels – .392
30. Cubs – .297

The Reds take the cake for the most inconsistency by lineup spot this year. They top the list at No. 2 and No. 8 while also being last at No. 6 and next to last at No. 1. They don’t have any lineup spot in the .700-.800 OPS range. Their presence here is Cozart doing Cozart things, with some help from Brayan Pena. Even Skip Schumaker went 3-for-5 with two RBI in his one game batting eighth and he’s 4-for-27 with no RBI over the rest of the year.

The Cubs at No. 30 gets a big asterisk here; they’ve exclusively gone with their pitcher batting eighth. For the record, their No. 9 hitters have a .630 OPS.

No. 9 hitters (AL only)
1. Angels – .721
2. Blue Jays – .671
3. Tigers – .648

league avg – .583

13. Royals – .484
14. Rays – .480
15. Indians – .476

We’re taking the NL teams out of this mix and just looking at the AL squads. Oddly enough, the Angels top the list; their No. 9 hitters, mostly Johnny Giavotella, have a higher OPS than any of the spots from No. 3 through No. 8.

So, the absolute best of the lineups to date:

1. Marlins – Dee Gordon
2. Reds – Joey Votto
3. Diamondbacks – Paul Goldschmidt
4. Mariners – Nelson Cruz
5. Rockies – Nolan Arenado
6. Yankees – Chris Young
7. Dodgers – Alex Guerrero
8. Reds – Zack Cozart
9. Angels – Johnny Giavotella

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

Jose Bautista

I haven’t added them all up nor have I researched the matter, but if I just had to guess, with my gut, based on doing these recaps every morning, I’d guess that more runs were scored last night than any night with 15 ballgames going in, say, a year. Maybe a year and a half. Could be wrong — could be way wrong — but it sort of feels like it.

I’d also say that, based on the couple of game stories I read, someone fired the cliche machine up to 11. But hey, it’s hard to be creative on a Tuesday night. Anyway:

Blue Jays 13, Orioles 6: So Bud Norris isn’t having a great time. Rocked for nine runs in two and a third, which follows on two previous not great outings, including an eight-run bleed-out against the Orioles in his first start of the year. On the year: twenty earned runs on 18 hits in ten and a third. In the offseason the O’s were trying to deal Ubaldo Jimenez but no one wanted him so they thought about trading Bud Norris instead. Always go with your second instinct, I guess. Two homers for Edwin Encarnacion. Oh, and Jose Bautista hit his 250th career homer that (a) came after O’s pitcher Jason Garcia nearly hit him, so (b) Bautista admired the shot, stared down Norris and then flipped his bat, causing the O’s to get all feisty and mad. Adam Jones even said, unironically, that Bautista needs to “respect the game” afterward.

Phillies 7, Marlins 3: The Phillies actually had an offense last night, led by Ryan Howard, who hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth. Howard was 2-for-3 with a walk, in fact. So I guess it just so happens that our friend Ryan here was only MOSTLY dead. And, as we all know, there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do: eat $50 million of his contract and ship him to the American League.

Royals 6, Twins 5: Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the eighth inning. After the game, Ned Yost was asked about how he stuck with Moustakas over the past couple of years despite all of his slumps:

“You almost want to stand up on this table and yell, `I told you so!” Yost said, flashing a wry grin. “But I’m not. I’m not an I-told-you-so kind of guy.”

Well, you just told-us-so, Ned, so you kind of are.

Angels 14, Athletics 1: Johnny Giavotella drove in four and Kole Calhoun had four hits, including a three-run homer. After the game, Giavotella said this:

“From day one in spring training, this team has welcomed me with open arms. They believe in me, and it’s great to have guys that rally around you and root for you”

Somewhere, in exile, Josh Hamilton sheds a single tear as mournful music plays.

Astros 6, Mariners 3: I love the intro to this AP gamer:

Collin McHugh continued to linger, never getting knocked around enough to where his night needed to end . . .

I feel like that was a lyrical passage to at least six songs in the mid-90s.

Jose Altuve hit a go-ahead three-run double on an 0-2 pitch in the eighth inning. The Astros are 8-6 and sit atop the AL West, by the way.

Cubs 9, Pirates 8: Addison Russell made his big league debut and finished 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. But that’s OK, because (a) the Cubs won anyway; and (b) Kris Bryant made a debut that was just as poopy on Friday and all he’s done since then is knock the friggin cover off the ball and get on base like crazy. Starlin Castro chipped in as well, going 3-for-5 with a homer and four driven in.

Rangers 7, Diamondbacks 1: Prince Fielder homered, doubled and drove in three. Asked what he’s doing, he said he is “just looking for a pitch [he] can drive.” I can’t believe he’d reveal such top secret information like that. Opposing teams read these game stories, you know. Fielder on the year: .386/.435/.509 with nine driven in. Guess he was just mostly dead too.

Giants 6, Dodgers 2: The third only mostly dead performance of the night, with Tim Lincecum allowing only one run in six innings to snag the win. He also provided another great cliche on the night when he revealed that his secret was “making good pitches.” Huh. “So, kids: if you’re a young pitcher out there, make good pitches. Not bad ones. That’s a tip from your old friend, Tim,” Lincecum did not add.

Reds 16, Brewers 10: Two grand slams for the Reds — Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier — and two homers from Zack Cozart powered up the Reds. Elian Herrera hit a grand slam for the Brewers and drove in five overall. RIP all the pitchers in this game. The Reds have scored 22 in two games against Milwaukee. Welcome back to 1999.

Nationals 2, Cardinals 1: One of the few pitchers duels of the night. And should’ve been lower scoring than it was, except Drew Storen blew the save in a 1-0 game in the ninth. Yunel Escobar’s walkoff homer in the 10th, however, saved his bacon.

Yankees 5, Tigers 2: Nathan Eovaldi allowed one run on eight hits and a walk while pitching into the eighth inning. The Yankees turned four double plays behind him. Chris Young and Stephen Drew hit solo homers in the seventh.

Mets 7, Braves 1: Trevor Cahill didn’t throw strikes, got behind in counts and the Mets sat back waiting for his get-me-over pitches, which they smacked all over the dang place. This is not a repeat from, like, every Trevor Cahill start of the past couple of years. Catcher Kevin Plawecki made his debut, filling in for the injured Travis d’Arnaud. He got two hits, scored twice and threw out a runner trying to advance. That’s nine wins in a row for the Mets.

Red Sox 1, Rays 0: Wade Miley and four relievers combined on the shutout. The game’s only run came on a throwing error that should’ve been an inning-ending double play. Mookie Betts’ hard slide helped throw second baseman Ryan Brett off balance, however.

Indians 6, White Sox 2: Carlos Carrasco made his first start since being hit in the face by a comebacker. He seemed just dandy, striking out eight in five innings on a cold night. The pen took over from there, allowing only one run in four innings of work. In all, Indians pitchers struck out 15 White Sox.

Padres 7, Rockies 6: Derek Norris hit a tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth to help the Padres complete a come-from-behind victory. Clint Barmes homered and Wil Myers had three hits and the Padres have won six of seven. They’re 10-5 overall and six of those wins have been come-from-behind jobs.

So, Jon Lester might have a problem with pickoff throws

lester throw 2

Prior to tonight, new Cubs left-hander Jon Lester hadn’t made a pickoff throw to first base since April 30, 2013. That’s right, nearly two years. If you watch the video linked here, you’ll know why.

Here’s a look at the aftermath of pickoff throw in the second inning tonight:


Anthony Rizzo is lucky he didn’t get seriously hurt here. He ran into the runner’s path back to first base and could have injured his knee. Fortunately, Jorge Soler bailed out Lester with a fantastic throw to nail Zack Cozart at third base. Lester and the Cubs keep trying to downplay any talks of him having the “yips” with pickoff throws, but teams are going to keep running on him until he finds a way to combat it.

By the way, Lester gave up six runs on 10 hits over six innings against the Reds tonight. His ERA sits at 7.84 through two starts with Chicago.

Correction: This was Lester’s second pickoff throw of the game. The initial version of this post indicated that this was his first. My apologies for the error.

Gold Glove finalists announced

gold glove award

Gold Glove award winners are announced November 4, but in the meantime Rawlings just named three finalists for each position in each league:

AL, catcher: Alex Avila, Yan Gomes, Salvador Perez
AL, first base: Eric Hosmer, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols
AL, second base: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler
AL, third base: Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre, Kyle Seager
AL, shortstop: Alcides Escobar, J.J. Hardy, Alexei Ramirez
AL, left field: Alex Gordon, Michael Brantley, Yoenis Cespedes
AL, center field: Adam Jones, Adam Eaton, Jackie Bradley Jr.
AL, right field: Kole Calhoun, Kevin Kiermaier, Nick Markakis
AL, pitcher: Mark Buehrle, Felix Hernandez, Dallas Keuchel

NL, catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina
NL, first base: Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau, Adam LaRoche
NL, second base: D.J. LeMahieu, Brandon Phillips, Chase Utley
NL, third base: Nolan Arenado, Juan Uribe, Pablo Sandoval
NL, shortstop: Zack Cozart, Adeiny Hechavarria, Andrelton Simmons
NL, left field: Justin Upton, Starling Marte, Christian Yelich
NL, center field: Billy Hamilton, Denard Span, Juan Lagares
NL, right field: Jason Heyward, Gerardo Parra, Giancarlo Stanton
NL, pitcher: Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright

I stopped paying much attention to the Gold Glove awards a long time ago–somewhere between Rafael Palmeiro winning one as a designated hitter and Derek Jeter winning five as a shortstop–but feel free to complain about the finalists.