MLB - The So What (6/23/17)

By Frank Brank @realfrankbrank

Zack Cozart to 10-Day DL

Zack Cozart's quad injury doesn't seem to be serious, but it doesn't give me an opportunity to talk about his season thus far. Cozart is 31 years old and is having a bit of a late push to get a decent deal in his upcoming free agency. Last season, Cozart hit .252/.308/.425 with 91 wRC+. Now, that seems worse than it is for a shortstop. With his plus defense, Cozart was still worth 2.5 wins above replacement last season. Cozart has found more pop in his bat this season while still playing incredible defense. Now slashing .320/.404/.562 with a 149 wRC+, Cozart has become one of the more valuable shortstops in baseball. His current 2.8 fWAR has surpassed last season's total. His progress is aided a bit by a .367 BABIP that we shouldn't expect to last; nonetheless, his walk rate has increased by 5%.

What does it mean?
We should expect Cozart, at 31, to not hold this pace and regress a bit. However, I still expect him to be an above average hitter going forward. His short time on the DL should not affect the Reds much in terms of wins. Cozart is worth 1.8 wins for the rest of the season to the Reds if his injury were to last longer than expected. Given that his is his last year of arbitration, the Reds would love to get Cozart back as healthy as possible in hopes that he continues to rake. He could become a huge trade chip for a team looking for a middle infielder with some pop.

Michael Brantley's Persistent Ankle
Michael Brantley is far removed from his near MVP season in 2014 but is still a productive player for the Indians today. Though he's never been a good or even average, defender, he continues to steal bases and produce with the bat. Brantley is slashing .296/.360/.432 with a 111 wRC+. After injuring his ankle a few weeks ago, Brantley continued to play off and on through the injury. As the issue persisted, the Indians decided to move him to the DL to provide their bench with an extra bat. This seems like a type of injury that could continue to pop up throughout the season if Brantley and the Indians are not careful.

What does it mean?
The Indians are currently up 2.5 games in the AL Central and projected to win the division by six games. Brantley has been worth about one win to the Indians thus far, and I expect him to be worth about that much going forward. If he were to miss the rest of the season, for instance, the Indians would only be projected to win the division by five games. His absence isn't a big issue if he gets healthy for the playoff push. That should be of primary concern. A combination of Austin Jackson, Daniel Robertson, and Erik Gonzalez will be filling in for Brantley. They are merely replacement level players but could provide a bit of value by regularly platooning favorable match ups.

Leury Garcia Sprains Finger
Leury Garcia has somehow become the second best player for the White Sox. After a decent amount of struggles in his first few stints in the majors, Garcia turned it on in AAA last year hitting .313/.367/.426 with 18 stolen bases. He's followed that up this year as one of the most overlooked storylines of the first half. Garcia is hitting .298/.345/.459 with a 113 wRC+. His defense is shining through, as well, saving seven runs so far this season in center field, according to DRS. Garcia has been worth 1.6 wins, according to fWAR, and other than not quite hitting this well in his previous stints, there isn't much reason to think he should regress to a replacement level player. Garcia's absence is concerning considering hitters come back with finger, hand, and wrist issues can not only struggle to get healthy but take a while to get back to form.

What does it mean?
We should anticipate Garcia to regress some, as we expect a triple slash around .275/.325/.385 and 105 wRC+ going forward. With his defense and base running abilities, that amounts to one win for the rest of the season. The one win isn't going change the course of the White Sox season, but they should make sure he's healthy before letting a finger injury linger. Garcia is only 26 years old and has had a ton of minor league experience and success. He will fly under the radar for the White Sox if he continues to couple his minor league success into major league performance.