Monday, July 14, 2008
Mid-Term A'Ssessment (See what I did there…?) – Infielders
Daric Barton – 1B
The Good News: He was a heavily hyped ROY candidate after hitting .347/.429/.639 over 72 September at-bats last year. He's had brief stretches of offensive effectiveness (.321/.397/.446 over the last two weeks of April and a similar surge for roughly the first two weeks of June), but that's about it. Defensively, he's not nearly as bad as he looked in the first month.
The Bad News: Since April 23, Barton is hitting .203/.304/.279…and even that doesn't show how bad he's looked at times. Despite the four home runs he hit last September, power is not really his calling card. Yet, I've lost count of the number of times Barton has swung out of his shoes in a futile attempt to pull another high-fastball. Barton had a reputation for stubbornness in the minors and the coaching staff hasn't curtailed his terrible, ineffectual and often times, stupid at-bats.
2nd Half Sure Fire Prediction: Barton's AAA-Sacramento home jersey will still fit like a "T", despite the abundance of post-game spreads in big league clubhouses.
Mark Ellis – 2B
The Good News: His OBP and SLG percentages are right in line with his typical seasons, while his defense remains completely underrated on a national level. Ellis is also 12-for-14 in stolen bases on a team that's currently two SBs away from matching their 2007 total.
The Bad News: His batting average (for what it's worth) is .238, which is about 40 points off his number from last year. Ellis has also looked like he's overtly trying to top last year's home run total of 19. This is his free agent walk year and he's been rumored to be heading home to Arizona in 2009. I dare say that no one has hit more lazy 295 foot fly balls this year than him.
2nd Half Sure Fire Prediction: The Bay Area media will incessantly report that Ellis and the A's are "close" on an extension that will never be signed. Same thing happened with Jason Giambi, Frank Thomas and other fan favorites over the years.
Bobby Crosby – SS
The Good News: After watching him with me on TV since 2003, Mrs. Bootleg finally made the Brad Pitt look-alike reference only five years after everyone else. After first 20 games this season, Crosby was hitting .313/.368/.475 and has fooled legions of A's fans into thinking he's finally realizing his potential. He's still his usual solid self with the glove.
The Bad News: From his 21st game played – on April 22 – through July 2 (when he strained a hamstring and hit the DL), Crosby is hitting .243/.300/.343 and has constantly been slotted in the middle of the order. It'd be different if he made the effort to adjust his approach from at-bat to at-bat and game to game, but his swing is still long, he refuses to walk an no one bats an eye.
2nd Half Sure Fire Prediction: Now in the fifth full year of his six-year pass from the fans and media, Crosby will continue to skate along on the merits of his overrated ROY season in 2004. Look for writers to get a head start on their annual "Crosby Hopes for Healthy '09" stories later this summer.
Jack Hannahan – 3B
The Good News: He is what he is – a quadruple-A player who has no business starting at a corner infield spot in the bigs, but he's held his own with the glove. There was a six-week stretch from late April to early June in which he hit .279 with a .385 OBP, but it says something that the best news of all was the return of Eric Chavez…for awhile.
The Bad News: His swing reminds me of a very slightly less "torquey" Phil Plantier. GM Billy Beane gets tons of credit for finding underappreciated and undervalued talent, but that approach is Teflon-infused. If a guy like Hannahan hits, Beane's a "genius". If he doesn't, then no one expected him to hit.
2nd Half Sure Fire Prediction: There is no f'ing way that John Joseph Hannahan gets 300 plate appearances in the second half of the 2008 season.
And, the Rest…: Well, he had his moments in the first half, but it's obvious that Eric Chavez isn't ready to reclaim the everyday third base job. After three surgeries in the offseason, he logged about 90 at-bats before heading back to the DL. On the plus side, he's had some huge clutch hits in a limited sample. Donnie Murphy hit two home runs vs. the Twins on April 24. Since then, he's hit .151/.250/.233…and missed time with a bum elbow…and struck out 26 times in 73 at-bats.