Chicago Cubs: Chris Coghlan going deep despite struggling at the plate

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So far this season, the Chicago Cubs have been an exciting team to watch when they’re putting together two-out rallies or just flat out hammering pitchers for long-balls.

You have guys like Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler (before his slump), and Kris Bryant turning heads with not only great plate appearances, but defense as well. As a whole, things should only improve as time goes on and these guys gain more experience.

Now what’s really surprising is when you take a look at the team’s home run list, outfielder Chris Coghlan is sitting in second behind Rizzo with seven on the year.

Coghlan, 29, wouldn’t necessarily come across as someone who should be up that high considering how poorly he’s been when it comes to his batting average, which has left plenty to be desired through the season’s first stretch.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see him contribute every once in a while, but once you take a look at how he’s done to begin the year, you would think he would be lower than he actually is. At the beginning of the year, Coghlan had 13 hits including two doubles, three hits, and four RBI while hitting .228/.290/.456.

When looking at a guy like Rizzo, who’s hitting .316/.444/.586 with an OPS of 1.030, you would understand where he’s at without second-guessing his home run or RBI totals. I’m by no means trying to compare someone like Coghlan to someone who just so happens to be the face of this franchise, but he was named the 2009 Rookie of the Year as a member of the Florida Marlins, so decent expectations are likely to follow.

After refusing to sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks once he was selected in the 18th round back in 2003, Coghlan returned as the 18th overall selection just three years later. In his rookie campaign, Coghlan hammered nine home runs while driving in 47 runs and smacking six triples, 31 doubles, and 162 hits while slashing .321/.390/.460.

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Since that season, Chicago’s outfield had been on a bit of a decline until he first arrived on the North Side just a year ago. This time around, things would improve as he came awfully close to duplicating those rookie campaign numbers in his first year with the Cubs. So there’s some serious potential there for someone who has been in the league for six years now.

Today against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Coghlan clubbed a two-run shot to bring his team within one to follow Miguel Montero‘s solo bomb that occurred earlier in the game. So not only is he two behind Rizzo, but he’s two away from eclipsing his career-high which shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, he could – and likely should – shatter that mark.

Taking a look at how he’s performed over the first two months of the season, Coghlan has a total of 21 games in which he didn’t record a hit. In those 21 games, he’s gone 0-for-4 around eight times despite having some hard hit balls that could have resulted in either a base hit or a double.

When looking at his April performance that was mentioned at the beginning of the article, his monthly batting average dropped from .228 in April, down to .191 with a week left in May. Not only has his average dropped, his strikeout total has increased as well, going from 13 to 16 with some top notch pitchers visiting Wrigley Field this week.

As far as runs batted in are concerned, Coghlan sits in eighth place behind Russell while Bryant and Rizzo lead the charge with 29 apiece. Which means that nine of his 11 RBI have come via home runs compared to the rest of the pack who have found ways to drive in runs with basic contact rather than leaving the yard.

Thankfully for his sake, his glove has been perfect behind 33 starts in left field with brief infield appearances.

If he’s able to buckle down and improve those offensive stats – even just a little bit – Coghlan could end up becoming a key member of this team as they continue to chase their first World Series title in over 100 years.

Next: D'backs Sink Cubs In Series Finale

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