Fay: Zack Cozart deserves to be on top of All-Star voting

CINCINNATI -- There's no question Zack Cozart deserves to be on top of the All-Star voting.

Cozart, after all, leads National League shortstops in hitting, hits, triples, home runs, extra-base hits, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.

The voting public is starting to take notice. Cozart moved from third to second in the voting. Cozart stills trails Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, 604,783 to 547,688, but Cozart is more than 10,000 votes ahead of Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs.

"It is a little shocking to pull ahead of Addison," Court said. "That market, they're voting nonstop. It's cool. We'll see how it goes. It's cool."

Players in big markets have a built-in advantage. The Nationals, Dodgers and Cubs would have six of eight starters if the vote ended today.

"Being in a small market, having some fans outside (of the market) is nice," Cozart said. "It's definitely cool to see that."

Cozart is having a breakout year at 31. A career .246 hitter, he went into Monday's game hitting .344.

"I don't think anyone can anticipate that," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I think he's always been a good offensive player and outstanding defensive player. Now, the offense has caught up with the defense.

"He's not just a guy who can line a single to right. He hits homers, a bunch of doubles and triples. He's handled all different types of velocity. He's laid off tough pitches. His on-base is up, not just because of batting average but ball-on-balls.

"I think he's a veteran player who's figured it out." 

Cozart had a good first half last year and didn't make the All-Star team. He didn't have this kind of year, however.

"I was doing OK," he said. "But the shortstop position was a little deeper, doing a little better. I kind of knew with Addison Russell winning the fan votes -- they only took one other shortstop -- I kind of knew more than likely that I'd be that odd man out.

"If we could fix the voting -- I'm not saying I was snubbed last year -- but guys get snubbed because the starters are either a fan favorite or from a big-market team. Sometimes they don't deserve it, so it takes away from someone else.

"That's unfortunate. But that's just the way it is."

Cozart, of course, would like to be an All-Star, but that's not an all-consuming goal.

"My goals are all team-oriented," Cozart said. "I want to win. That's it."

John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at johnfayman@aol.com.

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