Collin Cowgill went from a fringe major leaguer to a key part of the Angels depth in 2014. With a certain other Angels outfielder’s status in limbo, does Cowgill project to have a bigger role and bigger impact?
What happened in 2014?
The funny thing about Collin Cowgill is that he was actually kind of a surprise to make the Opening Day roster. Most everyone expected his spot to go to J.B. Shuck, but Scioscia opted to keep Cowgill instead (much to the delight of The Monkey). That decision paid off for Sosh as Cowgill performed well in his first taste of regular playing time. Granted, it took injuries to Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun for him to get that playing time, but Cowgill’s good defense and overachieving bat helped the Halos survive those injuries.
Where Collin really established himself was in handling left-handed pitching (.351 wOBA) and drawing walks (8.9% walk rate). These are skills he showed in the minors, but they never showed up in the majors until last season.
*The MWAH projections are simply my best guess based off my own personal opinion and research (my wOBA calculation is approximate because my math skills are only “meh”)
What do the projections think he will do in 2015?
They think that the Halos might want to reconsider just how secure Collin Cowgill’s roster spot it. The projections are virtually identical and they all see his offense cratering. He’s still above replacement level because of his defense, but they aren’t buying his semi-breakout campaign of 2014.
Does the Monkey agree or disagree?
I’m not buying it either. Cowgill had a lot of success on the back of a .331 BABIP. He’s a solid athlete and hits a lot of grounders, but he’s not fast enough to sustain that kind of BABIP for very long. He also has a ton of swing-and-miss in his game. It isn’t nearly as much of a problem against lefties, but it is still a problem and it is always going to be make it hard to keep performing at his offensive peak when he has that working against him.
THREE OPEN QUESTIONS FOR COLLIN COWGILL IN 2015
1) WHY THE @#$! DID YOU TAG UP?!?!!
Sorry, I’ve had that pent up for awhile now.
It really wasn’t the worst play in the world. Cowgill almost was safe, but Dyson made a perfect throw. The risk reward of advancing to third just wasn’t there though. Taking that risk is more of a problem with Scioscia’s baserunning philosophy, but still, Cowgill is the dude that got thrown out. Now, why it was him getting thrown out instead of Tony Campana who was left off the roster in favor of an extra reliever is another rant for another time.
2) Can he repeat his 2014 success?
We kind of already covered this, but it is an open question. Cowgill doesn’t have enough of a track record to draw any concrete conclusions. He didn’t have strikeout problems in the minors, so maybe he can make some adjustments. I’ve always felt part of his problem of cracking a roster permanently was that he got too aggressive because he was trying to hit his way onto the roster. Maybe now that he finally has a secure spot, he can tone it down a bit.
3) What will his role be during Josh Hamilton’s absence, however long that is?
This is the big question. He’ll obviously play a fair amount, but will he play too much?
He really shouldn’t start against right-handed pitchers, but Matt Joyce also really shouldn’t start in the field. That’s a tough call for Scioscia. Does he go with Joyce in the field and a better bat at DH? Does he go with Cowgill in the field for his defense and Joyce at DH? Does he go with Joyce at DH and start Daniel Robertson because he’s a lefty even though he can’t hit? It’s a tough call and one that might have to be made for three months instead of three weeks as we first thought.
The Final Word (and GIF)
This is Collin Cowgill’s big chance to cement himself not just as a fourth outfielder, but as a legit part-time starter. Nobody knows what is going to happen with Hamilton, so he just needs to keep his head down, focus on doing his job and make the most of the opportunity that Hamilton’s injury and possible suspension give him.