One2Watch4: Marlins OF Chris Coghlan

Want to stump your friends in bar trivia? Ask them who had the most hits after the All-Star Break last season. AL batting champion and MVP Joe Mauer with 101? Nice guess, but wrong. Derek Jeter with 102? Another great guess, but also the wrong answer. With 11 more than Jeter, the leader in 2nd-half hits with 113 was Florida Marlins rookie outfielder Chris Coghlan.

Who? Here's some background info. Coghlan was a 1st-round pick as a 2nd baseman for the Marlins in the 2006 draft out of the University of Mississippi. This is the same player who wore number 72 to spring training last year and started the season in Class-AAA New Orleans. At the time, that was the highest level of his 3-year minor league career.

Coghlan was called up by the Marlins on May 8 last season and failed to disappoint. His .321 BA was easily the best ever by a Marlins rookie (including ’06 Rookie-of-the-Year Hanley Ramirez) and marked just the 8th time in the last 50 seasons that a rookie batted .321 or better. By the time his season was over, he led NL rookies in runs (84), hits (162), total bases (232), doubles (31) and on-base percentage (.390). The numbers earned him NL Rookie of the Year honors, the 3rd Marlins player to earn the honor, joining Dontrelle Willis (2003) and Hanley Ramirez (2006).

As for those 113 hits, Coghlan made plenty of history. He tied an NL rookie record for most hits after the All-Star Break, matching the number produced by Frank McCormick in 1938.

His 94 hits in August and September were the most over a 2-month span by any NL hitter since Dave Parker in 1978. He had 8 consecutive multi-hit games in August, the first rookie to do that since 1973. The .372 BA after the break was tops in the Majors, becoming only the 2nd rookie in MLB history to lead the majors in batting average after the break, joining Wade Boggs in 1982. All of this from a player who was drafted as an infielder and moved to the outfield for the first time in his career because Dan Uggla was entrenched at second base.

Of course, all of these feel-good historical notes are no guarantee that Coghlan will shine in his sophomore season. Marlins fans remember how Dontrelle Willis went 10-11 with an ERA over 4 as the reigning Rookie of the Year in 2004. Coghlan is hopeful to more closely follow in Hanley Ramirez’s footsteps, the teammate he replaced at the top of the Marlins order last year. Ramirez finished 5th in the NL in BA during his sophomore season.