Monday, June 4, 2007

The Oakland A's Monday #8

I frickin' hate this guy.

Overall: 28-27 (3rd Place, AL West)
Last Week: 4-2 (2-1 vs. Rangers, 2-1 vs. Twins)

We're two months into the season and this is getting ridiculous.

In fact, we're half past "ridiculous". Oakland A's catcher Jason Kendall has put up the following line this season:

.197 batting average

.238 on-base percentage

.208 slugging percentage

Amazingly, he has started 48 of the A's 55 games.

Now, I will (strenuously) object to those who stereotype West Coast sports fans as an indifferent, uneducated lot. But, if Kendall was similarly sh*tty in New York, Boston or Philly he'd have been run out of town by now.

For Allah's sake, he's only got TWO extra base hits this season!

Still, there's actually a sizeable segment of A's fans who support Kendall. Even the local media…the media…seem unabashedly smitten with the worst hitter in baseball. In New York City, there are idiot fans and media who bash the on-field exploits of Alex Rodriguez, one of this era's greatest offensive performers. In Oakland, these two groups support a player who is the antithesis of offense.

I couldn't come up with any good reasons for this, but I tried…

The Human Highlight Film - To his credit, Kendall is a career .298 hitter who put up OBPs of .345 and .367 during his first two seasons in Oakland. He was also involved in several memorable plays that would've been more memorable if he played on a bigger stage. His mad dash from third on a botched toss to the pitcher kept the A's in the playoff hunt in 2005. A few weeks earlier, he ended a game by recovering a wild pitch and diving to tag out the runner trying to score the tying run. Oh, and he got in a brawl with the Angels' John Lackey.

The Eckstein/Erstad Factor - Mediocre white ballplayers who get their uniforms dirty and squint a lot will always be held in high regard. The Cardinals' David Eckstein has posted a career on-base plus slugging percentage that's 60 points lower than the league average. The White Sox's Darin Erstad had ONE great season, seven years ago, and has been terrible ever since. Yet, if you "Google" their names with words like "gritty", "gutty" and "intense" and you'd think they were Ozzie Smith and Lou Gehrig.

The "Good with Pitchers" Nonsense - A's fans always fall back on this one when defending Kendall. Never mind that there's no statistical proof to measure the effect a catcher has on a pitcher…if the A's are leading the league in ERA, then it must be because of Jason Kendall. The book "Between the Numbers" does a pretty good job of debunking this myth, but for those of you who are still in denial, I ask: Why didn't Kendall's magical game-calling skillz turn those pitiful Pirates staffs into five Cy Young contenders?

And, Kendall started last night's game vs. the Red Sox…

…and went hitless…


This Week: vs. Red Sox (4), at Giants (3)


A's Fan said...

1.) If Kendall doesn't play then who does? Adam Melhuse has a lousy defensive reputation and the pitchers seem to hate throwing to him.

2.) I don't like all the Eckstein love either, but would you rather have him or Bobby Crosby (career .315 OBP, .400 SLG) on your team?

3.) What does race have to do with players who are perceived as "gritty"? There are just as many "scrappy" minority players.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Answers to your questions, A's Fan:

1.) Anyone else. I'll agree that Melhuse isn't a long term answer. If Piazza's shoulder gets back to 100%, I'd have him start 3 games/week at catcher and 3 at DH. Give Melhuse or top prospect Kurt Suzuki the other starts and keep Kendall as a late def. replacement. Boom, instant increase in production.

2.) Taking their career numbers in a vaccuum, it's hard to argue for Crosby. Going forward? Gimme Crosby. Five years younger, better defensively. But, I'll admit Crosby has been overrated by A's fans since he won the ROY.

3.) Name ONE minority player that gets the media/fan fellatios for such average to sub-sub-sub average players as Eckstein and Erstad, respectively. I'll wait.

A's Fan said...

C’mon guy, are we really having this argument? Fine, I’ll play. How about Jose Vizcaino, Neifi Perez, Luis Sojo to name three.

Tom said...

If I didn't know any better, I'd think you read lots of Fire Joe

Next we'll be talking about the lynchpin index.

That Bootleg Guy said...

A's Fan: Ummm, no, no and no.

Tom: Fire Joe Morgan? Never heard of them.

Tom said...

3.) Name ONE minority player that gets the media/fan fellatios for such average to sub-sub-sub average players as Eckstein and Erstad, respectively. I'll wait.

Mike Lowell.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Two problems, though, Tom:

1.) Does Lowell really get that much love outside of New England (save for the occasional Bill Simmons blow job)?

2.) Isn't he only *half* Benito Santiago? With a name like "Mike Lowell" we know what set he claims.

Tom said...

1) I don't know. The Northeast Yankees/Red Sox media machine is all I really get. But then, they don't really talk about Eckstein or Erstad here, either (there's much too much A-Rod to talk about).

2) No clue. I don't know the full "gritty" qualifications. Does half-minority disqualify you? If you're a black guy or a Latino guy named John O'Halloran is this ok? Do your initals have to be D.E.?