The 2022 MLB All-Star Game is upon us and fan voting has begun. Phase one of voting for position players began on June 8th and ends on June 30th. Rising superstar Jazz Chisholm Jr. (eligible at second base) is the Marlins’ strongest candidate on the ballot. Most of you reading this probably don’t need to be convinced to support him.
Vote for designated hitter Garrett Cooper as well while you are at it.
Garrett Cooper in 2022 is having the best season of his career by far (.311 BA, .382 OBP, .461 SLG, .843 OPS, 4 HR, 28 RBI, 60 H). Entering Wednesday’s game, he leads the Marlins in batting average, on-base percentage and doubles. Cooper also ranks in the top 10 of all qualified National League players in those categories.
The Marlins finished April as one of the hottest teams in baseball, riding a 7-game winning streak thanks to many hot hitters. Garrett Cooper was one of those hot hitters, but he was being overshadowed by Joey Wendle, Jazz Chisholm Jr., and Jesús Sánchez, among others.
Cooper did not display too much power in the month of April, but he chose a great moment for his lone home run. His solo shot in the April 14 Marlins home opener tied the game in an eventual win over the Phillies. Other than that, he leaned on his ability to put the ball in play with a .389 BAbip.
The month of May was a disaster for the Marlins as a team, but not for Cooper (.289 BA, .350 OBP, .456 SLG, .806 OPS, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 26 H). He overcome some regression in BAbip by improving in every other aspect of his offensive game.
The Marlins have bounced back in June with a 9-5 record in their first 14 games. Cooper has been a crucial part of that. Don Mattingly found a good spot for him batting 2nd in the lineup—in 27 starts there this season, Coop is hitting like a star (.390 BA, .470 OBP, .580 SLG, 1.050). He surpassed the .300 batting average mark for the first time on June 5; keep in mind, the MLB average overall is just .241.
Cooper’s BAbip is at a whopping .514 this month, which will come down quite a bit. However, the way he uses all fields makes him very tough to defend against.
Year after year, Garrett Cooper’s unlucky streak of injuries has held him back. In his Marlins career, Cooper has gone on the IL for a calf strain, a hand contusion, an elbow sprain (requiring Tommy John surgery), a lumbar strain and COVID-related issues.
- 2017 (NYY): 13 games played out of 162
- 2018 (MIA): 14 games played out of 161
- 2019 (MIA): 107 games played out of 162
- 2020 (MIA): 34 games played out of 60
- 2021 (MIA): 71 games played out of 162
Cooper has been able to stay healthy so far in 2022. Including Wednesday, he will have played in 55 of the first 61 games (more than 90%). That has been huge for the Marlins who are trying to compete.
Comparison to other NL DH candidates
As good as Garrett Cooper has been for the 2022 Marlins, what matters most is how he compares to the other top players at his position. The table below puts Cooper head-to-head against Bryce Harper (Phillies), Nelson Cruz (Nationals), William Contreras (Braves) and J.D. Davis (Mets).
There is no mystery: Harper will be chosen as the starting DH in the National League. The 2021 NL MVP cannot play the field due to an elbow injury, but his hitting ability is still elite. He is lightyears better than Garrett Cooper and there is no discussion.
Fortunately, there is room on the NL All-Star roster for reserve players.
Nelson Cruz leads Cooper in home runs and RBIs even after getting off to a terrible start. But Cooper is performing much better overall based on his consistency and hitting to all fields. Cooper 100 percent deserves the vote over Cruz. The potential problem is that Cruz has been picked as an All-Star 7 previous times and it can be tough for people to separate his 2022 mediocrity from his career as a whole.
J.D. Davis has had himself a bounceback 2022 season with much-improved stats. One key difference is Davis isn’t an everyday starter for his team like Cooper is. He’s also striking out a lot (27.9 K%) and not actually on the same level as Cooper in any of the main offensive categories.
A personal favorite of mine, William Contreras is absolutely mashing for the red-hot Braves (13-game winning streak at the moment). Cooper has literally twice as much playing time as Contreras which should matter a lot. Contreras’ 1.050 OPS would be 2nd-best in the NL if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Because Contreras has the versatility to play catcher or outfielder, maybe there is a situation where he and Harper make the roster with a spot still available for Coop.
If you after reading this are convinced to put Garrett Cooper on your 2022 All-Star ballot, vote now.