Saturday, January 30, 2010
A's of the Decade: Right Field – Milton Bradley
Other Candidates: Matt Stairs (1996-2000); Jermaine Dye (2001-2004); Nick Swisher (2004-2007); Travis Buck (2007-2009); Ryan Sweeney (2008-2009)
Summary: Bradley's going to end up as the most questionable inclusion in this feature, but his two-year line as the A's everyday RF was an impressive .279/.371/.447 – albeit in just 115 total games. And, remember, in order to qualify as a candidate for each position, a player has to have been the team leader in games played at that position for any individual year of the past decade. Cool? Cool.
Most A's fans despise Bradley today, because…(1) Oakland traded budding superstar Andre Ethier to acquire him. (2) The A's also acquired IF Antonio Perez with Bradley from Los Angeles.* (3) Bradley dared speak ill of our boy-genius GM. Personally, I dug watching him play – hell, still do. Bradley might be batsh*t-insane, but you can't say he doesn't leave it all on the field. I'd take one of him over nine Matt Hollidays, anytime.
* -- Perez is on the short list of worst players to ever suit up for Oakland. He went hitless in his first 25 plate appearances and since he was already the last guy off the bench, his confidence never, ever returned. He seemed visibly shaken if his at-bats lasted more than one or two pitches. I'd never accuse a professional athlete of intentionally surrendering, but… How bad was he? On September 22, he was hitting .099 (9 for 91). He went 1 for 7 in his last two games of the season and raised his final average to .102. He hasn't been back to the Big Leagues since that 2006 season, spending last year at AA and AAA in the Braves' system (.203/.273/.312).
Favorite A's Moment: Bradley hit .500 with an ungodly 1.444 OPS in the 2006 ALCS vs. Detroit. His two-homer performance in Game #2 saw a certain Bootleg Guy attain a vertical leap in my living room that hasn't been matched, before or since. After the Tigers swept Oakland in four, Bradley was reportedly inconsolable in the locker room, sobbing through every postgame question.
Runner-Up: Jermaine Dye (2001, .297/.366/.547)
Worst of the Decade: Jermaine Dye (2002-04, .243/.318/.425)**
** -- Yes, I remember his horrific leg injury in the 2001 ALDS, since I was at the game. No, I won't reconsider.