Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A's grades continued....

Mark Ellis – 2B – BA 0.249 / OBP 0.319 / SLG 0.385
11 HR / 25 2B / 1 3B / 52 RBI / 40 BB / 76 K
At first glance, and especially compared to last season, Mark Ellis’ numbers look like a disappointment. But let’s take a closer look at his pre and post-All Star splits:
Pre-All Star: BA 0.219 / OBP 0.288 / SLG 0.311 – 3 HR
Post-All Star: BA 0.273 / OBP 0.342 / SLG 0.445 – 8 HR
Also notice that his numbers for 2006 were eerily similar to his 2003 season.
Expecting Ellis to repeat or improve on his unbelievable 2005 numbers, in my mind, was simply delusional. I expected him to do well, better than 2003 but not quite as good as 2005, meeting somewhere between those 2 extremes. I believe his post-All Star numbers paint a fairly good picture of what we can expect from Ellis in the future, provided he doesn’t slump early on in the season: a 0.270-280 / 0.330-0.340 / 0.400-0.440 hitter with low double digit HR and a modest number of walks. Combine that with outstanding defense at 2B and you have one heck of a second baseman. He deserves the gold glove for his defensive work but a weak season at the plate has hurt his chances, despite the fact that offense should have nothing to do with it, a sad truth when it comes to name recognition and popularity.

Overall Grade: B- (A+ for defense, nice improvement in offensive numbers in second half kept him from dropping down to the C range)

Post-Season Notes: Ellis broke his finger in ALDS play and had to sit out the remainder of the post-season relegating 2B duties to the far inferior Jimenez.

Where he will be in 2007: Back as the A’s everyday 2B where I hope he will prove me and other realists wrong and have his best year yet with no injuries.

Jay Payton – OF/Jay Pay – BA 0.296 / OBP 0.325 / SLG 0.418
10 HR / 32 2B / 3 3B / 59 RBI / 22 BB / 52 K
A lot of people point to Jay Pay’s weak OBP and low walk totals as proof that he is the archetypical anti-Beane player and can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that the A’s seemed more than willing to pick up Jay Pay’s option for 2006 and that there has been talk of extending him a contract to keep him with the A’s.
Despite Jay Pay’s incredible ability at avoiding walks, too many forget to notice that in addition to avoiding walks Payton also avoids strikeouts. Jay Payton led the A’s in fewest strikeouts (52) for batters with a minimum of 300 at bats. The next batter on the list is Bobby Kielty, who had 3 fewer strikeouts than Payton - with less than half the number of at bats that Payton had (270 compared to 557). Jay Pay is a contact hitter who puts the ball in play, rarely walking, but also rarely striking out. When he is “on” (or lucky as some people might put it) he will hit for high average with some occasional pop. When he is “off” his hits will more likely than not end up in a fielder’s glove or thrown out at first base.
Jay Pay also brings solid, if unspectacular, defense and decent baserunning. He can play all 3 OF positions competently and brings a lot of energy and emotion to the game for a veteran.
While Payton displayed some good gap power with 32 doubles, his HR total suffered from 2005 but was more in line with his career numbers. While Payton, along with too many others, also stumbled in April he is one of the few players to show strong consistency month after month with fewer peaks and valleys.

Overall Grade: B+

Post-Season Notes: Payton carried that consistency into the post-season, batting 0.308 with 2 doubles and a HR.

Where he will be in 2007: I like Payton, but with Kotsay locked up under contract, a superior Bradley likely to stick around, and Kielty as a more than adequate back up look for Payton to end up somewhere else. Although if I were Beane I would take a good hard look at trading Kotsay and keeping Payton. Payton isn’t quite as good in CF but his offense is better than Kotsay’s and he doesn’t have a gimpy back.
Ok, I just realized the mountain of hate I brought onto myself from Kotsay fans with that last comment. Bring it on!

Bobby Crosby – SS/perennial DL favorite – BA 0.229 / OBP 0.298 / SLG 0.338
HR 9 / 12 2B / 36 BB / 76 K
I just don’t get what everyone sees in Crosby. The A’s front office and numerous baseball writers and experts continue to praise Crosby’s talent and make excuses for his continuing failures, telling us to hold out because “any day now” Crosby is going to put everything together and all that talent he supposedly has is going to bust out and make us all believers. Crosby has now been in the show for 3 seasons – he isn’t a rookie anymore- and has yet to display any proof that he has learned to make adjustments or put anything together except for the amazing ability to find new ways of ending up on the DL. He has never had a fully healthy season, has an aggressive, violent swing that is prone to cause injury, has a knack for injuring those around him, and has yet to make any useful adjustments at the major league level. Here is a scouting report from yours truly to every other team in the AL: to get Crosby out just throw outside sliders or changeups for every bat. He’ll swing at almost every pitch and either strikeout or ground out weakly, sometimes into a double play. Don’t worry about those freak hits that manage to get through, he’ll end up injuring his back, or finger, or hamstring running around the bases and if you are lucky will end up injuring another of his fellow players in the process.
Watching Crosby swing dumbly at every outside or off speed pitch this season while nearly coming out of his shoes with his violent swing was just embarrassing and made me want to cover up my Crosby shirt in shame. Sure, he has great range on the infield when he isn’t crashing into something and has flashed some impressive leather from time to time, but even this is not enough to improve his overall image. His lack of playing time at such a young age is very troubling and his stubbornness (or stupidity) in refusing to alter his swing or learn from his mistakes is inexcusable. Unfortunately he is under contract for some time, so unless Beane has a miracle trade (who would want this guy?) we are stuck with him for the time being.
For all you Crosby fans out there – “…any day now, you just wait, he’s a future star…” – I’ll concede he MIGHT have some potential when he is able to play a full season without injury, jack 25-30 HR and strike out less than 100 times.

Overall Grade: F

Post-Season Notes: What post-season? Crosby’s numbers were so bad and had spent so much time on the DL that I think the average fan forgot he was even on the team.

Where he will be in 2007: Unfortunately he will be back at SS for the A’s just long enough to stink up the joint until he can find a way to injure himself so Scutaro can capably take over.

To be continued....


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