Jun 12, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter David Cooper (30) bats against the Washington Nationals at the Rogers Centre. The Nationals beat the Blue Jays 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Thinking about David Cooper?

I know, odd, why would I be thinking about David Cooper over the holiday season when, quite obviously, nobody else is.   Like many other Jays fans, I was hooked on Sportnet’s genius advertising idea to show the 1992 World Series in its entirety.  And one thing that I have taken away from the experience, aside from mourning the death of stirrups, is how alike Cooper and John Olerud look.  From their upright stance, quiet hands, and swing planes…..Olerud has more in the chin department, but there are many striking similarities.

Photo courtesy of worldsofwallpaper.com

Even with the rather major deals that Alex Anthopoulos has pulled off this winter, Adam Lind, and his struggles to hit any pitching, but especially left-handed pitching, are still very popular topics.  General consensus, at the very least, has a right-handed platoon partner needed, while the hopefuls have Lind sent away in shame and a full time replacement signed.  The latest story I read had Lance Berkman as the knight on a white horse, but the off-season has also seen names such as Jonny Gomes (now with Boston) and even recently signed Russ Canzler and his whopping 102 major league plate appearances bandied about as possible platoon partners.

Internally, Rajai Davis has been mentioned as a possible DH against lefties.  Admittedly, I do believe Rajai would be better than Lind, as his 230 point OPS advantage against left-handers in 2012 suggests.  However, giving so many at bats to Davis would detract from what his role should be, and what he is best suited for.  A fourth outfielder and late game pinch runner.

Organizationally, both the manager and gm are paying lip service to Adam Lind’s place in the team.  Both have him pencilled in as the full-time DH.  While this is all well and good during the off-season, as soon as spring training begins and Lind shows up either out of shape, or with a back complaint from ‘working out too hard’, a replacement will be sought.

Which brings us back to our Olerud look-a-like.  Cooper has proven he can hit AAA pitching (albeit in a very hitter friendly environment), so I don’t think his development is best served in Buffalo.  If Lind falters, I don’t see why Cooper as a like for like replacement is not the best course of action.

In a limited sample size, Cooper put together a pretty decent season in 2012.  He may not be the proto-typical slugging first basemen but the cyclicality of baseball has us going through a down period for power at the position.  Cooper’s 2012 .464 slugging percentage, if maintained for a full season, would have put him about middle of the pack for qualified players.

Cooper is a gap to gap doubles hitter.  With the radical reconstruction of the Jays lineup this off-season, Cooper’s skill-set may be exactly what the Jays need.  He would probably slot into the seven hole, behind the higher on base players like Bautista, Encarnacion, and (hopefully) Lawrie.  If given the opportunity, he may drive in a lot of runs hitting behind those players.

Defensively, Cooper rated as below average in 2012.  Again, small sample sizes, but you would have to believe he would be an upgrade over Encarnacion.  On paper at least, the rest of the infield should be quite respectable defensively, allowing Edwin to focus solely on hitting wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Of course, I’m writing this article in a vacuum, assuming the 2013 choices at first base are already within the organization.  Based on the off-season thus far, that may very well be a mistake.  And Adam Lind may very well have a bounceback season, although if you believe that, you’re probably still spiking the remains of the egg nog.  This is my first big prediction of 2013, David Cooper starts over one hundred ball games at first next season and puts up an above average wOBA to boot.

Probably not the last incorrect one I make this season, but hey, you gotta be in it to win it.

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  • raffa

    Like Cooper. Very forgotten in the excitement.
    He had .300 BA and 4 Home runs in 145 plate appearances and team missed him when got hurt.
    He’ll probably still improve as he has when moving up levels in past.
    Save $$ and trade bait for other holes that emerge in season.
    If he hits better than Lind (and other challengers) bat him before Rasmus and Arencibia (low average decent power) where Cooper’s lack of speed matters less… and he could be a very useful RBI machine in this line-up.

    • Charlie Caskey

      my sentiments exactly. If he shows some improvement, continues to hit a high amount of doubles and gets on base for Rasmus/Arencibia behind him, he’ll be fine.

  • vilifyingforce

    100+ games is pretty ambitious for Coops but I could see it happening. I think we still need an option for Lind since Rasmus needs a platoon partner as well imo. Let Bonifacio play CF against LHP and throw Davis in LF.

    • Roger Payne

      People are quick to dog Rasmus, but I think he’s going to have a big year.

      One thing that people undermine about baseball (pro or even amateur) is how contagious hitting can be. With the proven players we have, assuming that everybody is hitting, I think Rasmus will follow right in line. He’s not a self-starter, but I think he can catch the hitting bug when it gets going. Just look at all the games where the Jays offensively exploded last year, how many of those did he not contribute to?

      • vilifyingforce

        I was a big Rasmus booster, but, he’s proving himself unreliable to be a full-time starter. His numbers against LHP are identical to Lind, it’s just not good. A 554OPS is just not good.

        • Charlie Caskey

          This is a big year for Rasmus. If 2013 mimics all the months from 2012 bar June then a full season in triple A will have Gose ready for 2014

          • vilifyingforce


  • someguy

    Over Lind’s last 1500 pa’s he has an obp under 300, and isn’t really “mashing” rhp enough to justify even a platoon. Lind has had more then enough chances, please give Cooper a chance..

    • RyanMueller

      Well said. I was impressed with Cooper last season since he was pretty much forgotten as a prospect due to his below average power. HOpefully his neck is all better and he can provide us with an answer to our 1st base question.

      • vilifyingforce

        I’ve never read a good review of Cooper’s ability in the field, hopefully he can improve, but, neither him or EE should be getting many reps at first.

        • Charlie Caskey

          no, but if having Cooper there allows EE to focus on hitting, then Cooper has done his job

          • vilifyingforce

            The other side of that is that Edwin has hit better when in the field then at DH. iirc they talked about it during a couple games in 2011 where EE said he felt less comfortable at the plate when he was DH’ing. EE and Lind/Cooper will likely rotate between first and DH like last season.

          • Charlie Caskey

            A lot of that is mental and something the coaching staff can work with him on. If they feel the lineup is better balanced with Cooper at first then every effort should be made to ensure EE feels more comfortable as a DH

          • vilifyingforce

            Of course, there’s no guarantee it works though, I’d be a lot happier with Coop if he can stretch out the gap between avg and obp and keep his obp over 350.

          • Charlie Caskey

            while slugging in the .480 range, mainly predicated on doubles, but with 15+ home runs mixed in as well.

          • vilifyingforce

            Yeah, I made the assumption if he can get on base that well his power isn’t going to vanish.

      • Charlie Caskey

        He may not be exactly what people are looking for but as someguy says, Lind has had his chances and squandered them. If Cooper can drive in those in front of him and get on base for the power guys behind him, he’ll have done his job

    • vilifyingforce

      I really wish Lind or Cooper was a RHB. When looking at #’s vs RHP for 1b, Coop finished 22nd and Lind finished 27th in OPS among players with 100+PA’s. If they can’t find a hitting 1b it’d be nice to have one that can at least play the position well.