Friday, October 24, 2014
Vintage Fridays: Rich Coggins, 1974 Topps #353
In 1974, Rich Coggins must have felt as fuzzy as he looks on this card. A year earlier, he had batted .319/.363/.468 (134 OPS+) in 110 games as a 22-year-old rookie. His nine triples were second on the club only to fellow rookie Al Bumbry's 11. He was also the Orioles' first runner-up to Bumbry (.337) in batting average. But the hits didn't fall in for Coggins as a sophomore. He had a brutal April (.154/.241/.250), and things didn't get a whole lot better from there. Aside from a .354 average in July, the outfielder didn't bat above .250 in any single month. He finished the year at .243/.299/.319 (81 OPS+), which didn't really cut it. The year ended on a particularly sour note for Coggins, as he took an 0-for-11 collar in the team's ALCS loss to the Athletics. He did steal 26 bases in 32 tries, combining with Don Baylor and Paul Blair to give the O's a trio of outfielders with at least 26 steals apiece. But Rich wouldn't get a chance to reverse his fortunes in Baltimore, as the Birds shipped him north to Montreal with Dave McNally in exchange for Mike Torrez and Ken Singleton.
As bad as 1974 seemed for Coggins, things were worse beyond Charm City. His major league career had only two more seasons and 103 games left to it, as he compiled a measly .498 OPS (43 OPS+) for three teams. I've read that a thyroid condition was to blame for his abbreviated and downward-trending career. How frustrating it must have been to be robbed of his livelihood at age 25.