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Coghlan, Bailey named Rookies of the Year

Nov 16, 2009, 2:43 PM EDT

This morning I laid out my Rookie of the Year picks, choosing A’s reliever Andrew Bailey in the American League and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen in the National League.
This afternoon the Baseball Writers Association of America announced their actual selections, agreeing with me on Bailey for the AL award while going with Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan for the NL honor.
I’m certainly not surprised that the BBWAA tabbed Coghlan, whom I placed third behind McCutchen and Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ. Coghlan led all NL rookies in playing time by logging 565 plate appearances in 128 games, had a .321 batting average, and hit exceptionally well over the final two months.
Ultimately lots of playing time, a big batting average, and a prolonged hot stretch are more than enough to get the BBWAA’s votes, because my guess is that not many of the 32 writers who cast ballots cared that Coghlan beat McCutchen by only 14 points of OPS or spent a lot of time factoring in Coghlan’s poor defense in left field compared to McCutchen’s good defense in center field, let alone making positional adjustments for their offensive production.
Remember, one BBWAA member who covers the Marlins repeatedly described Coghlan’s rookie season (which included a relatively modest .850 OPS, nine homers, and just 47 RBIs) as “historic” and last year Edinson Volquez received three second-place votes in the Rookie of the Year balloting when he wasn’t even eligible for the award. Baseball analysis has come a long way in recent years, but for 32 beat reporters casting ballots batting averages and headlines still carry the day.

  1. Marlins fan - Nov 16, 2009 at 3:27 PM

    Coghlan’s poor defense in left field? First of all, that is not true, and secondly remember that he is a natural infielder who played the outfield for the first time in the pros this year. I know not many out of the South Florida area have even seen him play, but I watched most of the games and did not see the poor fielding you are talking about.

  2. JR Richardson - Nov 16, 2009 at 3:52 PM

    Coghlan’s UZR/150: -14.5
    Remember that, just like you can’t tell the difference between a .280 hitter and a .300 hitter by watching their at-bats (even if you see all of them), you can’t discern the overall quality of a player’s defense with the naked eye.

  3. Kevin - Nov 16, 2009 at 3:53 PM

    You didn’t see it? Why? Because he had a decent arm and didn’t make a ton of errors? Well goody for him!
    Coghlan was one of the 5 or so worst leftfielders in the majors this season.

  4. dl3 - Nov 16, 2009 at 4:02 PM

    Like was stated-its more than the balls he did get to – its the balls he didnt get to that make him a bad defender.

  5. Nick - Nov 16, 2009 at 4:31 PM

    Coghlan led all big league rookies in runs (84), hits (162), total bases (232), doubles (31) and on-base percentage (.390), while putting up a .321 average with nine homers, 47 RBIs and eight stolen bases

  6. dl3 - Nov 16, 2009 at 4:35 PM

    I dont think that anyone is trying to argue that he should have the award taken away, he had a very good rookie season offensively. Just saying that he wasnt a very good fielder.

  7. awineguy - Nov 16, 2009 at 5:46 PM

    So Coghlan’s OPS of .850 is “relatively modest” yet it exceeds McCutchen’s but you believe McCutchen is a better hitter. This despite the fact that Coghlan exceeded McCutchen in batting average, on base percentage and OPS while striking out less despite playing more. As is often the case with NBC’s “expert bloggers” I’m confused.

  8. dl3 - Nov 17, 2009 at 10:05 AM

    No where did he say McCutchen was a better hitter. Not sure where you got that from.

  9. George Landry - Nov 17, 2009 at 9:52 PM

    To the Baseball Writers Assn:
    After a recent visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I was wondering why Roger Maris was not in the hall. He did, after all break Babe Ruth’s record in 1961. After all, Hank Aaron is in the Hall.
    So, I wrote to the Hall of Fame and they informed me that the Hall of Fame does not vote for its members. They told me I should send my letter to the Baseball Writer’s Association.
    So, even posthumously, I believe Roger Maris should be in the Hall of Fame, and, I’m not even a Yankee fan.
    A die hard Red Sox fan.

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