The Tyranny of Batting Average: Chris Coghlan Wins NL ROY

| | Comments (23)

Because Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan hit .321 on the season, highest among NL rookies and in the top five overall, the good folks at BBWAA decided to award him with the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year award. Nevermind the fact that Pirates rookie outfielder Andrew McCutchen outplayed him in every single important aspect of the game: smacking more taters, recording more outfield assists, covering more range in the field, stealing more bases, drawing more walks and doing a far better hip bump. All this with 70 fewer plate appearances.

Because, you see, Chris Coghlan had a decent batting average. Above .300. That's really good and doesn't require any voter to look past the most basic of statistics to really evaluate who the better player was in 2009. You can accuse me of tilting at windmills here, but upon hearing that McCutchen did not win this award, my first reaction is to go mount my horse and take on those horrid giants.

In the American League, Oakland closer Andrew Bailey picked up the award because BBWAA voters know that throwing one inning in 26 wins is more important than, you know, starting 30 games and pitching 180 innings like his teammate, fellow rookie Brett Anderson, or like Tigers phenom Rick Porcello. Or fielding with aplomb and helping his team improve their miserable glovework like the Rangers' Elvis Andrus.

PREVIOUS: The Walkoff Walk 2009 Thievin' Creampuff Awards   |   NEXT: Addressing Baseball's Broken Systems: The Draft


The fact that Bailey won is ridiculous, the fact that he won by so many votes is really ridiculous.

Can I just say fuck JAAAAAAA Happ and move on? Fuck JAY Happ.

Colby Rasmus is doomed to play in obscurity forEVER! (As a side note, I am also in the McCutchen camp.)

Jay Happ:
12-4, 2.93 ERA (8th in NL), 145 ERA+ (8th), 3 CG, 2 SHO.

I'm not saying he should have won, but he had every right to be close.

Addendum - as did Tommy Hanson. The two dudes had remarkably similar numbers. Eerie, even. Heavens to Mergatroid.

My imaginary ballot that exists solely in my head for self-delusional purposes looked like this:

1. McCutchen
2. Happ Hapablap
3. Casey Kelp from the Snorks

McCutchen's an exciting young player, especially if you happen to be a Pirates fan, but he's hardly a slam dunk over Coghlan. Coghlan had a higher OBP by 25 points and a better OPS. Cutch (is that his nickname yet?) does have an edge in defense, HRs (he hit three more than Coghlan), stolen bases, and walks (but even with 30 more walks he couldn't match Coghlan's OBP) which I do grant make him a worthy candidate as well. Yes, batting average is an overrated stat, but that doesn't mean you don't have to be good to hit .321, and Coghlan still has an edge in some pretty key stats. I think he's a good pick (though the homer in me certainly wanted Happ to get it).

Yeah but still, the 70 plate appearance gap is significant. Also, Coghlan is unlikely to maintain the heady batting average once his BABIP (.366!) flops next year.

Twenty-nine out of thirty general managers would take McCutchen in a heartbeat over Coghlan. Ed Wade was too busy being stuck in a tree.

You're tilting at windmills here.

Shut your face, Sancho Catshirt.

Perhaps I'm underselling Happ's numbers, but looking a bit deeper into them you see a ticking timebomb. Also worth noting; he's old as shit. Give me Tommy Hanson or give me death. Or McCutchen, he's awesome.

Good points about PA and BABIP, but should the award be given to the rookie who had the best season, or the one who projects the most value in the future? If I'm voting, I'd probably consider future value, but I'd give more weight to production of the current year. If Coghlan's numbers are partially attributed to luck as his BABIP suggests, he still probably had the best overall offensive season for a rookie. Like I said, I like McCutchen, and I'm disappointed he's so far back in the voting (which is likely attributed to the batting average bias as you suggested), but I think Coghlan is still deserving.

On an unrelated note, looking at the voting results (, I'm sure Coghlan and Happ were probably 1-2 in various orders on most voters' ballots. Is it likely that any of the voters had any kind of real criteria for how they ended up ranking those two other than gut feeling? How else do you compare a very good offensive season to a very good pitching season?

Not to play devil's advocate here, but it's entirely possible that the voters forgot Pittsburgh still has a baseball team.

Coglan's law: Coghlan is #1

I'm with Drew 100% on this one Nick. The FIP numbers on Happ when coupled with his batted ball and walk numbers demonstrate he is not all he is cracked up to be.

On that note, I'm outlining my campaign of just vengeance on behalf of Tommy Hanson. Who's coming with me?

Hanson's FIP and K numbers are really the only remarkably different numbers between the two. And Tommy's BB/9 ratio was actually worse than Jayyyyaayy's. Both pitchers' ERA+, WHIP, BaBIP, and GB/FB figures are damn near identical. I'm not going to get into a numbers argument with you two, because that would be dumb, but I just don't know that Jayyyyeeeyayyyy is in for the freefall that yous and Bill James predict.

I'm in, but only because I love vengeance.

And with that, I am off to interview Jawbox.

And with that, I am off to interview Jawbox.

Yeah right. And I'm going to have high tea with Rites of Spring. Nice try, BoL.

I'm obviously in due to my crippling mancrush on Tommy Hanson.


Don't get Rob started on the AV Club Gorge, he'll explode.


In considering Jay Happ for ROY, I gotta ask: should sustainability really matter when considering who should win? This is just my own silly opinion, but I think the award should be based on who had the best year period, regardless of how sustainable those numbers are. And you have to admit, if he doesn't keep it up, Happ had one hell of a year.

Leave a comment