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Fantasy Baseball Insiders’ Inbox Projections: Buy or Sell Florida Marlins’ Chris Coghlan?

Wed, Apr 27, 2011

Insiders' Inbox, Player Projections

Question from an avid reader:

Is Chris Coghlan legit?

-Big Mike

Chris Coghlan is off to a hot start for the Marlins. After his 1-f0r-4, three RBI performance on Wednesday, Florida’s leadoff hitter is batting .297 with 16 runs, four HRs, 16 RBI and one stolen base.

In order to determine if Coghlan is a legitimate fantasy contributor, we can turn to his minor league totals and scouting reports.

The 2006 supplemental first-round pick ranked as the Marlins’ No. 9 prospect according to Baseball America in 2009, and was among the most hyped second basemen in the minors. Per Baseball America:

Coghlan has an innate ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball. He also shows strong plate discipline…A solid-average runner, Coghlan has made himself into a legitimate basestealing threat by studying pitchers. Predominantly a third baseman in college, he has made himself into a solid second baseman. His baseball smarts and work ethic bode well for him.

Coghlan—a left-handed batter—spent parts of four seasons in the minors before graduating to the bigs in 2009.

  • 2006 (Gulf Coast Rookie League & Low-A): 101 at-bats, 16 runs, 0 HRs, 15 RBI, five steals, .297/.368, .366
  • 2007 (Low-A & High-A): 435 at-bats, 77 runs, 12 HRs, 82 RBI, 24 steals, .287/.378/.474
  • 2008: (Double-A): 483 at-bats, 83 runs, seven HRs, 74 RBI, 34 steals, .298/.396/.429
  • 2009 (Triple-A): 96 at-bats, 21 runs, three HRs, 22 RBI, nine steals, .344/.418/.552

Coghlan went on to hit .321/.390/.460 with 84 runs, nine HRs, 47 RBI and eight steals in 504 at-bats during his 2009 rookie season with the Marlins, starting all but one game in left field—not at second base.

Coghlan’s sophomore season wasn’t nearly as successful, as he hit just .268/.335/.383, and was shut down in July to undergo knee surgery.

Through 953 career at-bats in the majors, Coghlan is batting .299/.366/.438, so I think it’s safe to say he’s a legitimate major league hitter. His power/speed totals are much more difficult to predict.

Coghlan has never hit more than 12 HRs in a single season, yet he already has four through 91 at-bats in 2011. His current 17.4 HR/FB rate (career 8.3) is quite inflated, so this long ball pace shouldn’t continue. However, given that he’s still just 25 years old and has recorded 87 extra-base hits in 953 career at-bats, it would be reasonable to expect 15 HRs this season.

While Coghlan did steal 72 bases in 90 attempts (80 percent) during his minor league career, he’s stolen just 19 in 28 tries (68 percent) in the majors. He still remains a basestealing threat however, and should easily post double-digit steals this season given 600 at-bats as the Marlins’ leadoff hitter.

His current RBI pace (16 in 22 games) is unsustainable, but he’s certainly capable of an above-average total for a leadoff hitter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him post 60-70 RBI in 2011.

Assuming teammate Hanley Ramirez busts free from his early-season slump, Coghlan’s on-base ability should provide an opportunity to approach 90-100 runs scored.

At worst, Coghlan is a 10/10 guy with a solid average. His ceiling, however, is at least 15/15/.300, with an outside shot at 100 runs. Somehow, he’s currently owned in just 38 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He’s a must-add in any 10-team league, as the converted center fielder offers a unique power/speed/average package. If the Marlins decide to move him back to second or third base (two positions with long-term uncertainty within the organization), his fantasy value would skyrocket.

If you have a question for the Insider, send it to nick@fantasybaseballinsiders.com to be used in a future edition of the Insiders’ Inbox.

Image courtesy of: Michael G. Baron

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