By Thom Henninger
The way 2009 NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan struggled in the early going, you’ll have to forgive me if seeing the Marlin on television inspired thoughts of Pat Listach, the Milwaukee Brewer rookie who emerged as the1992 award winner in the American League and never again approached his first-year success.
That’s not exactly fair to Coghlan, who seemingly came out of nowhere to claim National League honors last season. It did seem conceivable, however, that the 25-year-old Coghlan, who has moved from second base to left field this season, might slip away as quickly as he appeared.
After all, the left-handed batter hit .195 and slugged .195 in April, and it took a few walks to keep one of his hitting percentages above the Mendoza Line. He was only marginally better in May, and Coghlan finished the first two months with a .227 average and .276 OBP. Mostly batting at the top of the Marlins order, he had scored just 22 runs in 48 games through the end of May.
It’s been a different story since May 31, when Coghlan sparked a come-from-behind victory over Milwaukee with three hits, including a two-run triple. His performance ignited a 27-game surge in which he’s batting .387/.469/.658. He recorded 15 doubles in June, and putting himself in scoring position so often led to 30 June runs. Both numbers were major league highs for the month.
What a difference getting on base makes. His .463 June OBP was the third highest among big league regulars, trailing only the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton (.482) and Brett Gardner of the Yankees (.472).
The Marlins were off the first day of July, but for Coghlan, the new month begins with a modest five-game hitting streak in which he’s 7-for-20 (.350). More importantly, he’s scored at least one run in each of his last four games, and one a day hasn’t been the norm. Coghlan has scored seven runs in those four contests.