Exit Interviews – Chris Coghlan
G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP
148 503 16 64 41 11 11.5 % 18.7 % . 193 .284
AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
.250 .341 .443 .337 113 3.2 10.9 4.2 3.3
It’s funny how things work. Chris Coghlan lost out on playing time in the season’s last two months because Kyle Schwarber can’t catch and Starlin Castro went utterly nuclear. There isn’t anything he did that would cause that, he’s just not as good as the other two. Or wasn’t.
It was also a weird year for Cogs, because he spent the first month or two being Charlie Brown in terms of his luck. There was always a raincloud over his head. Coghlan’s BABIP in April was .228. I remember a game specifically in late April at home against the Pirates where Cogs sent three screamers to left field that on another day would have netted him three homers (which he again almost pulled off in September in Philly). He had a solid hard contact rate of 35.9% and a line-drive rate of 20%, but couldn’t get anything to fall.
Finally in June it corrected for Cogs, where he had an .886 OPS. Had a rough July, even though he was still hitting the ball hard, before having a nice close to the season even if it was in a part time/homeless man’s Zobrist role. But that rain cloud struck again when Schwarber and his nuclear weapon juggling act took over, even though you couldn’t say Coghlan lost his place in the lineup. When you have a grizzly bear who can swing the bat, you play the grizzly bear and don’t ask too many questions about it.
Coghlan nearly doubled his career high in homers, but it’s hard to wonder if it just wasn’t because of a swelling of his HR/FB rate that isn’t sustainable. His career mark is 8.5%, and 2015 saw one of 13.7%. Now, he had spent all of his career in Florida where it was much harder to hit a homer through that soup they call their air in the summer, and he did hit more flies this year than he ever had this year. He also made more hard contact this season than he ever has, so maybe 15 homers per year is going to be the norm for him as long as he’s in what is at least nominally a hitters’ park? It also didn’t hurt that Coghlan pulled the ball more than he ever had in his career, upping his power a bit.
Still, at 30 years old, you have to believe that this is the max of what Coghlan will be. Moderately powered corner outfielder who at least didn’t strangle himself with his glove this year, which he looked like doing in the past. Except the Cubs are going to want to feature something slightly more than moderately powered in left field next year, namely Schwarber. And when he’s not there, one would have to think it’ll be Bryant or someone to face lefties, and that’s not Coghlan’s game either. Cogs made it clear he didn’t particularly like being a 4th outfielder (even though that’s probably exactly what he is), and I wonder if he won’t be a throw-in to whatever deal the Cubs make. Could he handle a bench role for an entire season? The Cubs will want depth and it’s hard to see who could replace Coghlan even in that and you’d want him around in case someone gets hurt. I suppose you can always find a 4th outfielder on the free agent market, that just seems a waste when there’s a perfectly good one here if he’s willing to accept the role. And that’s probably insulting to say to a player who was worth 3.3WAR, which is definitely starter material. Such is the world the Cubs find themselves in these days, which is saying something.