Chris Coghlan and Brett Carroll

The Florida Marlins’ left fielder Chris Coghlan has received rookie of the year consideration from quite a few sources this year, on the wings of his impressive .372 wOBA rookie season. This puts him at the top of the rookie class this year for the entire major league. Despite poor marks by UZR at an unfamiliar position in LF, Coghlan’s 2.4 WAR still ranks among the best in the league by a rookie.

Another less heralded rookie for the Marlins saw significant time at the other corner outfield position this year. Brett Carroll played 73 games (32 starts) in RF and also saw time in 43 other games (15 starts) in the other outfield positions. His batting line of .306/.383/.689 OBP/SLG/OPS (.302 wOBA) did not elicit the kind of fanfare as Coghlan’s season. However, Carroll played excellently in the field, rating as a +13.8 outfielder between all 3 positions. With positional adjustments, Carroll was worth +10 runs in the field. Overall, Carroll was worth 1.2 wins in a mere 158 PAs and 513 innings in the field. Over a full season, that’s a nearly 3-4 win player.

The Marlins certainly have a pair of talented players here, but each has his downsides. Coghlan’s performance is entirely built on his batting and Carroll’s on his fielding. We know that sample sizes of a single season, for both offense and defense, can lead us astray. What can we say about these two players?

For Coghlan, much of his success was built on a .366 BABIP. Coghlan carried a .326 BABIP through his minor league career, which doesn’t suggest that he will be able to sustain a high number like some players (Ichiro Suzuki, Matt Kemp) have. His ISO is slightly below average and his BB% is right around average. His minor league numbers don’t suggest that his walk rate or ISO should rise, as his minor league ISO sits at an unimpressive .153, and his walk rate at 11.8%. Coghlan’s profile resembles that of a league average hitter, which would struggle to sustain his poor glove in LF.

However, it is unlikely that he will remain in left field. Coghlan’s natural position in the minors was 2B, and his defensive reputation there is far better than in LF. Minor League Splits has his most recent defensive seasons as well above average, but the sample sizes are small and must be taken with a grain of salt. Still, simply moving from LF to 2B adds a full win to his defensive value, and numbers and scouting both suggest his marks should improve there.

Carroll, on the other hand, has a season built almost completely on 530 innings of UZR, a very small sample. However, looking at the Fan’s Scouting Report, ran by Tom Tango, the fans rated him as the 2nd best right fielder in the league, only behind Ichiro Suzuki. Again, due to the low amount of votes for Carroll, there is a high standard deviation on the rating, but it only supplements his UZR in declaring him an excellent fielder.

His batting stats may rise, as well. He was plagued by a .286 BABIP and shows no reason not to expect an average .300 BABIP with his skill set. He’s not going to walk very much, but he provides average to above average power with an ISO of .149 and a minor league ISO of .223, and if the ball bounces his way next season his wOBA will inch closer to average. He won’t outslug guys like Matt Holliday, of course, but his hitting shouldn’t keep him off the field.

Coghlan and Carroll represent two very key pieces in building a young club. Both players should be quite productive in the years to come, and at a minimal cost to the Marlins.

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10 Responses to “Chris Coghlan and Brett Carroll”

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  1. LeeTro says:

    Adjusting Coghlan’s BABIP to his minor league level, I got splits of .286/.365/.416. I agree this is a much more acceptable line out of an average-defensive 2B, instead of a below-average defensive LF. Another interesting thing about Coghlan is the lack of willingness to run, though only being 8 for 13 may have had something to do with that.

    I’m not so optimistic on Carroll, however. His only good hitting line (besides 30 good games in AA Carolina) in the minors was at Albuquerque, which is at the same elevation as Denver. Average plate discipline with no sustained ability to hit for average does not result in a productive corner OF.

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    • Nny says:

      As for his lack of running, a lot of that likely had to do with Fredi Gonzalez not giving him a green light.

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  2. joser says:

    Still, simply moving from 2B to LF adds a full win to his defensive value,

    I think you meant to write that with those positions reversed.

    Also, I admit I don’t follow the Marlins much at all, but don’t they still have Dan Uggla under control for a couple of years? Plus enough other infielders already (Cantu, Bonifacio). If Coghlan moves to 2B, what happens to Uggla? Trade?

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      Well Uggla isn’t exactly Roberto Alomar with the glove, so maybe he will get shifted to a corner position?

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    • Jack Moore says:

      Of course you are correct. Fixed.

      Also I think Uggla is a great trade candidate, yes.

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      • Michael says:

        GREAT trade candidate, undoubtedly, and that’s why it’s likely to see Coghlan back in the infield next season. I ran a projection based on his Total Zone numbers in the minors at second, using Rally’s adjustments for Total Zone, and got a -5 projection. That isn’t bad, especially given the offensive production. He isn’t likely to ISO much, and if his walk rate sticks at the 10-11% it was at earlier in the season, it would be very solid at second base.

        Hopefully, the Marlins trade Uggla for something good.

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  3. Nny says:

    Carroll also had a Total Zone /150 of +18 as a corner OF in the minors. And that doesn’t include his arm, which is seriously one of the best in the league. He’s certainly unlikely to continue to be a +30 OF that he has been so far in the majors, but he should at least be +15 and I’d assume +20.

    However, it seems unlikely he’ll be a starter. He’s never been hyped up by Flemming and brass, and he’s only been used as a 4th OF/defensive replacement/LHP platoon bat so far even though there’s been opportunities for him to start (The one chance he got, in ’07 when Cody Ross was injured, lasted 10 games). And with Hermida likely being gone, and the only LHB platoon OF bat in the upper system is Scott Cousins (Petersen and Coghlan, the other LHB options, hit both hands), the platoon option likely vanishes.

    Imagine if the Marlins ran out an OF of Cody Ross/Cameron Maybin/Brett Carroll next season though. With all the emphasis made in the media about “defense defense defense”, it’s hilarious that the Marlins continue to run out a sub-par defensive squad while good defensive players get wasted away.

    And also rather meh news: Reports are that several people in the office prefer Coghlan in OF rather than moving him back to second. Making it look like another year of Emilolio Bonifacio.

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    • Michael says:

      nny, I’ve got that outfield defense projected at +17.5 over the course of 150 defensive games. The offense, on the other hand, we won’t talk about.

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  4. kalarson says:

    I think there’s an error on Coghlan’s player page… it says he had 163 defensive games and 123 games played overall.

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    • Michael says:

      Defensive games are based on average number of chances for a player at that position. It’s possible for Coghlan to build up that many DG without playing that many games.

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