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Why Garrett Cooper Must Play Every day for the Marlins

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The 30-year-old, who is one of the most steady bats on the roster, should be in line for consistent at-bats in 2021.

National League Division Series Game 1: Atlanta Braves v. Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Starghill/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Without making too much noise, Garrett Cooper simply makes the Marlins a better offensive team when he’s in the lineup. Writing his name into the batting order for every game this season will be complicated considering the presence of Jesús Aguilar and removal of the designated hitter from the National League, but Don Mattingly needs to find a way.

Cooper has been everything the Marlins could have asked for when they acquired him from the Yankees back in November 2017. And the best part of it is he keeps getting better in the batter’s box while playing a huge role in the team’s recent success.

Did you know that the Marlins are...

  • 15-6 since 2019 when Cooper hits a home run
  • 26-13 since 2019 when he drives in at least one run
  • 23-16 since 2019 when he gets at least two hits

Impressed?

The cherry on top to that is Cooper’s affordability. Avoiding arbitration with a team-friendly $1.8 million for 2021, after a solid 2020 that helped the Marlins reach October (.283/.353/.500/.853 in 34 games).

In fact, Cooper is tied for the third-highest home run total on the Marlins since 2019 (21) despite playing in at least 20 fewer games than the other team leaders during that span (Jorge Alfaro, Starlin Castro, and Brian Anderson). The first baseman/outfielder is also fourth in hits (141).

One can argue that Cooper has yet to reach his peak. In 2020, he continued the steady-reduction in his strikeout (31.6% in 2018, 26.1% in 2019, and 23.3% in 2020) and his whiff rates (35.1% in 2018, 23.4% in 2019, and 22.2% in 2020). At the same time, the 30-year-old has gradually become a more selective hitter at the plate, with his swing percentage going from 48.4% in 2019 to 40.4% this year.

Moreover, Cooper has raised his average exit velocity since 2018 (86.8 MPH, 89.1 MPH, and 90.1 MPH in his three Marlins seasons). He made quality contact so often that his .304 expected batting average last summer was among the league’s best, according to Baseball Savant.

National League Division Series Game 2: Atlanta Braves v. Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Starghill/MLB Photos via Getty Images

There are several reasons to believe - health permitting - Cooper should continue improving and serve as an important piece of the Marlins lineup.

According to a recent Miami Herald report, the team doesn’t see him as a regular right fielder, so it seems he’ll be relegated to splitting time with Aguilar at first, with suspected sporadic playing time in right.

No matter what, Cooper’s everyday presence in the Marlins’ lineup will be imperative to their success n 2021.