Inspired by the Kevin Goldstein podcast below from Pitchers Hit Eighth, I wanted to take a look at Zack Cox and his struggles so far in Springfield. A quick look after the jump.
Zack Cox came of an abbreviated rookie season and went right into the Arizona Fall League where he OPS’ed .779 in 75 plate appearances. He started the year in single-A Palm Beach, and played well in a pitcher’s park and pitcher’s league. Cox hit 23% line drives in Palm Beach and had a wRC+ of 126 in his 180 plate appearances there. (wRC+ is based on wOBA and both park and league adjusted so it compares how well a player has done considering the league and parks he is playing in. 100 is average.)
After that start to the season, one would think that Cox would go to Springfield in a hitter’s park and league that is especially friendly to left handed hitters and shine, but that has not been the case. The jump from A to AA is large, but after quickly mastering a pitcher’s league, the results are surprising. Cox has hit 61.6% of his batted balls on the ground (which is 20% more than PB), so he’s not getting solid contact like he was in Palm Beach. He does have a .262 BABIP, so he is due for a bit of a regression, but not much unless he stops pounding more than half of the balls into the ground. In comparison to above, his wRC+ for his 131 plate appearances in Springfield is 58.
The machinations of the draft and signing of Zack Cox and granting of a Major League deal (I’m sure he wasn’t going to sign without the major league deal) make Zack Cox’s play both spotlighted and impossible to take a patient approach with the kid. Obviously, 386 plate appearances does not a summer make, but it is still concerning especially with Kevin Goldstein’s opinion of Zack Cox.