Who should be the Miami Marlins first baseman?
By Neil Raymond
I wrote about Miami Marlins first baseman Garrett Cooper before. I also wrote about Yuli Gurriel before as well. Cooper is of course the starter at the position, while Yuli is the backup. Does it make sense to flip them? Should Yuli be the starter and Cooper the backup? Let's explore that possibility and see if it actually makes sense for The Fish.
Should the Miami Marlins make a switch at first base?
Garrett Cooper has 0.1 WAR this season, and is currently batting .242/.285/.391 with 4 home runs and 17 RBI in 33 games and 128 AB. Cooper is injury-prone and has already missed time this season because of that. He has only topped 100 games in a season twice in his seven year career. He did however make the All-Star team last season, though he fell off in the second half. He finished the 2022 season with a .261/.337/.415 batting line, with just 9 home runs and 50 RBI in 119 games and 414 AB.
Garrett Cooper is not a star. He also isn't much of a power threat. He's a career .271/.342/.436 hitter by the way. He can get on base and can hit for average at times, so he's not a terrible solution at the position. That said, it's hard to get excited with his profile. Fangraphs projects him for .252/.326/.409 going forward.
Yuli Gurriel on the other hand is projected by them for a .266/.318/.393 batting line going forward. The career .284/.328/.446 hitter has -0.1 WAR this season. He also has a .263/.306/.384 batting line, with 3 home runs and 9 RBI in 27 games and 99 AB so far this season. Last season Yuli was dreadful, hitting .242/.288/.360 for the Houston Astros in 146 games and 545 AB.
So who is better? At the moment it's very close. Cooper has a higher WAR, but Yuli has a higher batting average. Cooper has a higher OBP and SLG, but Yuli has a better track record. They should be alternated based on matchups, and on who is playing hotter at the moment. The most important thing is to get the hotter bat in the lineup.