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The Wizard of Koz

There are certain things in baseball that just defy logic and expectations. A lot of times, the things that occur that surprise us the most follow something unfortunate. For the St. Louis Cardinals, something very unfortunate occurred in the middle of their push for Postseason play in 2012.

The Cardinals traded for shortstop Rafael Furcal last season, and his presence and play was integral to their magical World Series run. However, in August, after enjoying one of his better all-around seasons in years, Furcal went down with a torn ligament in his throwing elbow. There is not a very deep well of talent in the Cardinals’ farm system at that position; so, this injury could have had a major negative impact on the season.

Enter: Pete Kozma.

The Cardinals drafted Kozma, a Tulsa, Oklahoma native, out of high school in 2007 in the 1st round (18th overall). He was touted as a tremendous defensive player with some work to do on the offensive part of his game. It was his offense that made his trek to the Majors a slow one. He never hit above .258 at any minor league level, to include a career-worst .214 in AAA-Memphis last year. However, he did get called up to the Majors in late 2011, but his most notable contribution was making an errant throw that led to Albert Pujols breaking his left arm. He began the 2012 season in AAA once again, and his offensive output had not improved (.232/.292/.355).

After Furcal’s injury, I was talking with one of my college buddies who works in Memphis. He was with Kozma when he got the call from the Cardinals that they were bringing him up. This was one of those “right place, right time” scenarios, and I actually broke the story of his call up on twitter. Even with the excitement of having a fellow Oklahoman get called up by my favorite team, I was very concerned about Kozma’s struggles at the plate and how that could hurt the Cardinals down the stretch.

Boy, did that change in a hurry.

In only 23 games for the Cardinals, Kozma is hitting .338/.375/.600/.975. His 14 September RBIs is second on the team only to the NL batting average leader with RISP (Allen Craig). His hot streak has coincided with some of the Cardinals’ big bats slumping. In addition to providing some much needed pop at the bottom of the Cardinals order, he has also been solid with the glove.

Whenever Kozma is asked to explain his Major League success thus far this season, he basically chalks it up to luck. Aside from that, he is just trying to remain levelheaded and help the team make a playoff push.

Now, no one is saying that the 2013 starting job at SS is his to lose, but he is definitely making his presence felt on a team ripe with strong veterans and great young talent. Maybe this is just Pete Kozma’s world, and we’re all just living in it.

There are certain things in baseball that just defy logic and expectations. A lot of times, the things that occur that surprise us the most follow something unfortunate. For the St. Louis Cardinals, something very unfortunate occurred in the middle of their push for Postseason play in 2012.

The Cardinals traded for shortstop Rafael Furcal last season, and his presence and play was integral to their magical World Series run. However, in August, after enjoying one of his better all-around seasons in years, Furcal went down with a torn ligament in his throwing elbow. There is not a very deep well of talent in the Cardinals’ farm system at that position; so, this injury could have had a major negative impact on the season.

Enter: Pete Kozma.

The Cardinals drafted Kozma, a Tulsa, Oklahoma native, out of high school in 2007 in the 1st round (18th overall). He was touted as a tremendous defensive player with some work to do on the offensive part of his game. It was his offense that made his trek to the Majors a slow one. He never hit above .258 at any minor league level, to include a career-worst .214 in AAA-Memphis last year. However, he did get called up to the Majors in late 2011, but his most notable contribution was making an errant throw that led to Albert Pujols breaking his left arm. He began the 2012 season in AAA once again, and his offensive output had not improved (.232/.292/.355).

After Furcal’s injury, I was talking with one of my college buddies who works in Memphis. He was with Kozma when he got the call from the Cardinals that they were bringing him up. This was one of those “right place, right time” scenarios, and I actually broke the story of his call up on twitter. Even with the excitement of having a fellow Oklahoman get called up by my favorite team, I was very concerned about Kozma’s struggles at the plate and how that could hurt the Cardinals down the stretch.

Boy, did that change in a hurry.

In only 23 games for the Cardinals, Kozma is hitting .338/.375/.600/.975. His 14 September RBIs is second on the team only to the NL batting average leader with RISP (Allen Craig). His hot streak has coincided with some of the Cardinals’ big bats slumping. In addition to providing some much needed pop at the bottom of the Cardinals order, he has also been solid with the glove.

Whenever Kozma is asked to explain his Major League success thus far this season, he basically chalks it up to luck. Aside from that, he is just trying to remain levelheaded and help the team make a playoff push.

Now, no one is saying that the 2013 starting job at SS is his to lose, but he is definitely making his presence felt on a team ripe with strong veterans and great young talent. Maybe this is just Pete Kozma’s world, and we’re all just living in it.