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Historic Tiger Baseball #11--Bill Coughlin

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Today's Featured Tiger Player

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--Bill Coughlin--

(1904-1908)

(click on name for statistics)

Bill Coughlin had a brief stay with Washington's National League club in 1899 and resurfaced there for the American League’s inaugural 1901 season. Traded to Detroit in mid-1904, he played third-base and captained the Tigers' first two pennant winners in 1907 and 1908. Coughlin was also the all-time master of hidden-ball tricks. He pulled it off at three different positions and seven different times. There is only one known instance of the hidden-ball trick working in World Series play, when Coughlin caught Jimmy Slagle of the Cubs napping in the 1907 Series.

Coughlin was a light-hitting defensive player common to the position of that era. In four years as the Tigers regular, he never hit higher than .252; he slugged over .300 just once, and never walked as many as 40 times. Still, his .252 BA and .317 slugging in 1905 were slightly above the league average. Despite his lack of offense, he was still good enough to be the regular on the '07-'08 league champs, and was considered one of the better defensive third basemen in the league.

Here are just the batting averages for the league's regular third basemen in 1906-08:

1906--.240 league avg.

Coughlin, Det. .235

Tannehill, Chi. .188

LaPort, NY .264

Bradley Clev. .275

Knight, Phil. .194

Hartzell, St.L. .213

Cross, Wash. .263

Morgan, Bos. .215

1907--.247 league avg.

Coughlin, Det .243

Rohe, Chi. .213

Moriarty, NY .277

Bradley, Clev. .223

Collins, Phil. .274

Yeager, St.L. .239

Shipke, Wash. .196

Knight, Bos. .212

1908--.239 league avg.

Coughlin, Det. .215

Tannehill, Chi. .216

Conroy, NY .237

Bradley, Clev. .243

Collins, Phil. .217

Ferris, St. L. .270

Shipke, Wash. .208

Cross, Wash. .199

Lord, Bos. .260

Third was a defensive position in this era. It's also worth noting that Coughlin

was the only player in the league to start all three seasons.

by Brad Smith

http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/C/Coughlin_Bill.stm

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Third base should still be a defensive position (although not to the extreme it used to be). I don't know why people think it needs to be a power position.

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Third base should still be a defensive position (although not to the extreme it used to be). I don't know why people think it needs to be a power position.

really? i've always prioritized it lower than 1b in terms of defensive importance.

really, the only defensive attributes i consider essential to the position are a quick 1st step and an accurate throwing arm.

i'd actually prefer to have an iron gloved 3b than 1b, primarially due to the number and kinds of plays involving a 1b.

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Third base should still be a defensive position (although not to the extreme it used to be). I don't know why people think it needs to be a power position.

Wonder if there's such a thing as a hitting chart for all of MLB? That would tell you where your best defenders should live, I would think?

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Wonder if there's such a thing as a hitting chart for all of MLB? That would tell you where your best defenders should live, I would think?

i wonder if there is such a thing? and if there is, that would be a great topic for your blog Lee (whcih, BTW, i am having problems submitting replies to. not sure if i'm the only one, but it seems no one else is replying lately either.)

personally Yooper, i concur with your premise about this determining where your dest defenders should be, but i would ammend that to evaluate where your best fielders should be (range and glove). i think that the different positions still dictate the type of thrower necessary to play the spot.

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i just realized that Chris Truby would've been an All-Star if he'd only played a century earlier...

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More silly questions .... why don't managers swap their LF/RF depending on whether a righty or lefty is batting? I've seen it done a while back, when the Mets had to use Rusty Staub in the OF, also on a few occasions when a pitcher had to play OF ...... Suppose it's a pride thing with the "regular" OF's, imagine trying to get Manny Ramirez to keep shifting like that !!!!

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really? i've always prioritized it lower than 1b in terms of defensive importance.

really, the only defensive attributes i consider essential to the position are a quick 1st step and an accurate throwing arm.

i'd actually prefer to have an iron gloved 3b than 1b, primarially due to the number and kinds of plays involving a 1b.

I'll add strong (as well as accurate) arm to that list. I think some 3bs get to a lot of balls that others can't get and I believe it makes a difference. Also, the 3B doesn't usually have the luxury of time or the chance to recover from a bobble.

As someone who spent a large part of his youth playing 1B, I'm biased and think that 1B defense is underrated. I think it's less difficult than 3B though. The 1B also benefits from the quick first step but doesn't usually have to make the strong throw after making the play. He's also closer to the bag and can afford to bobble the ball briefly or take his time. The 1B position requires more different kinds of plays and working closely with the pitcher but I think more players are able to do those things than the things the 3B has to do.

I'm certainly no authority on what it takes to play these positions though. I think this can be an interesting discussion. The historical evolution of the position is also interesting.

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As someone who spent a large part of his youth playing 1B, I'm biased and think that 1B defense is underrated.

The few times I've played first I found it to be fun and challenging. As for prime examples of what a good defensive firstbaseman can do for you, I'd look to guys like Keith Hernandez, J.T. Snow, Don Mattingly, and Dave Bergman, for starters ....

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