I’m not sure if Zack Cozart played quarterback in high school. I am pretty sure he was not offered the chance to play football at Florida State University. But when it comes to his time in the batter’s box while wearing an Angels uniform, he’s matched the legendary Jeff Mathis stride for stride.
Long the poster child for offensive ineptitude as a Halo, Jeff Mathis sported a career .194/.257/.301 slash line over the course of 1360 plate appearances. The fact Mathis received 1360 plate appearances is easily justification for keeping Mike Scioscia out of the Hall of Fame as a manager, but that is a story for another day.
By more advanced metrics, Mathis put up an OPS+ of 50 and wRC+ of 47. Both of these metrics use 100 as league average, so Mathis was, at best, half as good offensively as the average MLB player.
Fast forward six years from Jerry Dipoto removing the pitcher’s spot, err Mathis, from the lineup and in December of 2017 current GM Billy Eppler signed Zack Cozart for 3 years and $39 million. Cozart had eclipsed Mathis total income from the Angels some time in June of last year, but his assault on Jeff’s slash line was just beginning.
Over the course of 346 plate appearances, Zack Cozart is putting up a very Mathis-esque .195/.266/.305 line good for an OPS+ of 57 with a wRC+ of 59.
Let’s take a look at those slash lines side by side:
They could be twins.
The amazing thing is that Cozart’s current trajectory is even worse than his Mathis, err, slash line. On the year he’s at .131/.183/.155 good for an OPS+ of negative 6 and a wRC+ of negative 7. Another month or so, and he’ll fall well below the bar Mathis set.
The only question at this point is how much longer he’ll be allowed to be a black hole in the offense. Sunk cost is sunk cost but with Luis Rengifo and Taylor Ward looking less than MLB ready, expect Zack to continue his march into negative metric territory for the time being.