We now interrupt our regularly-scheduled coverage of Javier Baez's ascent into baseball super-stardom to bring you news on another member of the Cubs' roster.
At long last, it looks as though the Cubs are finally loading their lineup with players who might be around for a while. Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez, and...Chris Coghlan? I had a brief bullet on the resurgent lefty a few days ago, but his continued run necessitated a bit more coverage.
The cast-off the Cubs signed to a minor league deal prior to the season appears to have recaptured the form of Rookie of the Year campaign with the Florida Marlins. In 2009, Coghlan played 128 games for the Fish, slashing .321/.390/.460 with an OPS of .850. Not bad, right?
But unfortunately for young star, the wheels fell off after that as injuries and inconsistency plagued his career for the next several years. His sophomore campaign was limited to only 91 games, as back issues hampered him before a torn meniscus in his left knee really derailed the season.
And the latter injury wasn't even a result of compensation for the former, as is so often the case. It came in the aftermath of a cream-pie attack on Wes Helms, when Coghlan jumped to prank his teammate and landed awkwardly. He was never able to regain form, seeing his line drop to .268/.335/.383.
Perhaps even more alarming, Coghlan struck out 84 times in only 400 plate appearances, after doing so only 77 times in 565 PA's in 2009. Shuttling between Miami and the farm over the next two season did nothing to help his confidence and the numbers only continued their sharp decline, bottoming out in 2012.
That season, Chris Coghlan hit .140/.212./.183 with an OPS of .394. No, those aren't typos. 2013 saw a sharp increase in those stats, though if we're being honest, there was really nowhere to go but up. The average (.256) was up, but with only 1 HR, 10 doubles, and 10 RBI, Cogs was bringing very little to the table for Miami, which is why he was granted his free agency after the season.
So it was that the Cubs lure him with a minor league contract and an invitation to Spring Training. Given the youth and relatively awful overall play of the Cubs outfield, it was a deal with a lot of upside for both the Cubs and Coghlan. But even the most optimistic fans could not have foreseen the return on this paltry $800,000 investment.
Coghlan is arbitration-eligible for the next two seasons and it's looking more and more like the Cubs would be wise to hold onto him, despite the increased price he's sure to command after finding what Ponce De León never could. In case you're keeping track of myths, that gives the Cubs both a unicorn and a fountain of youth on the roster. And I'm told that if you look directly into Kris Bryant's eyes, you can see El Dorado.
And speaking of unicorns, with all the buzz surrounding Javier Baez lately, Coghlan's hot streak might be easy to overlook. But including Wednesday's 3-3 night in Colorado, he's tallied 15 hits in his last 9 starts, including 2 or more in each of the last 6. During that stretch, he's raised his average 30 points, from .272 to .302.
After leading off the game with a triple, then lacing a single and a double in subsequent at-bats, the Rox finally got smart and avoided the white-hot left fielder by walking him in the 7th.
But despite the hot hitting of late (he was actually the NL's leading hitter in July at .376), Coghlan really doesn't bring much to the table in terms of power (only 6 HR and 20 RBI) or speed (only 5 SB). That said, he projects as little more than a solid lefty platoon bat.
It's far too tiresome to construct a lineup comprised entirely of homegrown talent, but that is nonetheless what the Cubs are trending toward. With younger, more dynamic players on their way to Wrigley before long, Coghlan will once again be relegated to spot duty.
He may have missed out on the cycle on Wednesday, but Cubs fans should take the opportunity to ride this exciting performance while it lasts.
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