Chris Coghlan has Rookie of the Year written all over him, at least in my book. I was joking with Hanley Ramirez earlier in the clubhouse that if he didn't watch out, Coghlan was going to catch him in the batting race. To which Ramirez smiled and replied, "Good for him." Even though Ramirez is slumping -- 11 for his past 58 last time I looked -- he isn't going to be caught by Coghlan or anyone else. But the way that Coghlan is hitting, you have to wonder if -- given another month -- he wouldn't get past his teammate. Coghlan raised his average to .319 with a 3 for 4 night in Atlanta on Tuesday. That puts him in a tie for fifth with Cincinnati's Joey Votto.
Forget rookies. You'll find Coghlan's name among the league leaders in several offensive categories, which is something you can't say for the other leading ROY candidates. Batting average with runners in scoring position? At .353, Coghlan ranks fifth in the NL -- behind Yunel Escobar, Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Michael Bourn. Most hits since the All-Star break? Coghlan tops the majors with 106. Derek Jeter, with 98, is second.
Coghlan wouldn't be the Marlins' first NL Rookie of the Year winner. Dontrelle Wilis in 2003 and Ramirez in '06 also captured the honor. Looking back, former Malrins Preston Wilson in '99 and Livan Hernandez in '97 didn't have bad rookie seasons either. Nor did Edgar Renteria in 1996 or Josh Johnson and Dan Uggla in 2006. Of the eight -- Coghlan, Ramirez, Willis, Hernandez, Wilson, Renteria, Uggla and Johnson -- who had the best rookie season?
Here are a few thumbnail sketches to job the memory:
Livan Hernandez came up midway through the '97 season, made 17 starts and went 9-3 with a 3.18 ERA (Sorry, Livan. But for comparative purposes, we're counting regular season stats only).
Preston Wilson hit .280 with 26 home runs, 71 RBI and stole 11 bases as a rookie in '99.
Dontrelle Willis was called up in May of '03 and went 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 27 starts.
Hanley Ramirez hit .292 with 17 homers, 59 RBI, scored 119 runs and stole 51 bases as a rookie in '06.
Chris Coghlan, who was called up in May. is hitting .319 with nine home runs, 44 RBI, 78 runs scored and has 7 stolen bases.
Dan Uggla hit .282 with 27 home runs, 90 RBI and 105 runs scored in 2006.
Edgar Renteria hit .309 with 5 home runs, 68 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 1996.
Josh Johnson went 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA and struck out 133 in 157 innings in '06.