Friday, November 20, 2009

2009 Final A'ssessment: Outfielders

Scott Hairston – LF (.236/.262/.391)

2009 Grade: D-

The Good: Well, let's see. SP Sean Gallagher – who'd done all he could to qualify for my
most hated A's list – was traded to the Padres as part of a package for Hairston. And, Hairston's presence gave me the first light-skinned African-American A's player to look up to since Darren Lewis' cup o' coffee in 1990.

The Not-So-Good: Scott Hairston is a fourth outfielder. This was the freakin'
title of the post I wrote on the night we traded for him. Was our boy-genius General Manager surprised when Hairston finished with a 230 point difference in OPS between LHPs (.920) and RHPs (.694)? On September 9, in the span of about 90 seconds, Hairston failed to hustle out of the box on an easy fly ball that was dropped and then was doubled off first, when Chicago's middle infielders suckered him on a popup. Do. Not. Want. (Back.)

Rajai Davis – CF (.305/.360/.423)

2009 Grade: B+

The Good: Lifting liberally from my season-ending
10 Thoughts post - Davis enjoyed a career year at the age of 29 after spending his entire big league career as a 5th outfielder, defensive replacement and pinch-runner. After a miserable start in which all 800 remaining A's fans were calling for his release, Davis hit .323/.374/.459 with 34 stolen bases in his final 89 games.

The Not-So-Good: Davis posted an ungodly – and unlikely to be repeated – .366
BABIP. He only walked 29 times in 432 PAs and his SB% was a barely acceptable 77%. Davis also experienced several maddening, unfocused moments on the base paths and in the field that belied a player whose primary skill set is speed and defense.

Ryan Sweeney – RF (.293/.348/.407)

2009 Grade: B-

The Good: From June 27 through the end of the season, Sweeney hit .328/.378/.476. Perhaps more importantly, for the first time in his professional career, Sweeney hit LHPs at a perfectly respectable clip (.268/.344/.375). On defense, he made several highlight reel – and some home run-robbing – catches that generated the usual "he should've won a Gold Glove!" nonsense from people who either (1) take the meaningless GG award too seriously or (2) don't know that "merit" is the sixth or seventh most important qualifying criteria for the award. That said; he was pretty goddam good.

The Not-So-Good: Many fans and members of the media remain convinced that Sweeney's going to develop 20-home run power someday. He set a career-high with…six home runs last season. I remain skeptical. He missed 2 ½ weeks with a sprained MCL. In two seasons with the A's, he's accumulated an assortment of relatively minor injuries that could hasten his aging process.

And, the rest…: I can't lie…I take great pride in the fact that Eric Patterson's spindly build resembles my own. He caught fire at the tail end of the season and showed signs of finally figuring out his game is the same as Willie Mays Hayes': hit the ball on the ground, leg out hits, befriend Rick Vaughn. It was another lost season for Travis Buck, who
publicly contradicted the team over the severity of an injury in late May and was summarily banished to the minors. 27-year-old Matt Carson made his Major League debut. He hit his first MLB home run on September 21 in Oakland. The fan who caught it allegedly asked for $10,000 in exchange.

Oh, what a year.

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