Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2010 Mid-Term A'ssessment: Outfield

Ryan Sweeney – RF: .294/.342/.383

What I Said in March: "Sweeney enters [2010] with 12 career home runs and I'm calling his shot on his behalf…he's going to hit exactly 12 home runs in 2010."

What I Say Now: In 331 plate appearances over 82 first-half games, Sweeney has one home run. In his defense, he's played the entire season on a pair of chronically sore knees that have clearly affected him in the field, at the plate and on the basepaths. On the other hand, save for what appears to be a fluky 25-point uptick in SLG last year (aided by a .355 BABIP in the second half), his slash line has been virtually unchanged since 2008. I'm juuust about ready to reduce Sweeney's potential ceiling from Mark Kotsay to
Derrick May.

Mid-Term Grade: C...On June 8, Sweeney's OPS stood at .785 and since then it's .586. Maybe it's just regression to the mean or maybe it's his barking knees, but on the season, Sweeney's OPS is next-to-last among all Major League right fielders (you suck, Jeff Francoeur). He's noticeably slower on defense, too. As I've mentioned more than once to my wife, "Sweeney looks like the world's oldest 25-year-old."

Rajai Davis – CF: .268/.308/.372

What I Said in March: "I'm not entirely convinced Davis is going to lose all of the OBP gains he made in 2009."

What I Say Now: From 2006-08, Davis' cumulative OBP was .314. In 2009, it leapt to .360. This year, it's .308. Yes, he's lost all of the OBP gains he made last year. In searching for an explanation, Davis' percentage of walks per plate appearance has fallen from 6.7% in 2009 to 4.2% this year. His line drive rate – quite simply, a measure of how hard he's hitting the ball – is down from 20% to about 15% (in fact, he's already surpassed his 2009 total of infield hits this season). The biggest difference, however, is his BABIP – down 50 points from an unsustainably high .361 in 2009.

Mid-Term Grade: C+... Davis earned an everyday job with his second-half performance in 2009. It took less than half a season for him to lose it in 2010. He's a super-nice guy whom the local beat writers adore, so he gets a pass for the more-than-infrequent moments when a fly ball clangs off his glove or a baserunning miscue kills a rally. I'm rooting for Davis, but he really doesn't make it easy.

Gabe Gross – LF: .265/.299/.342

What I Said in March: "The A's have dialed up the drama regarding their pending decision on the roster's '25th man'. [Eric] Patterson is battling Jake Fox for the team's lone IF/OF bench role."

What I Say Now: The above quote came from my write-up of Patterson, as Gabe Gross didn't make my preseason cut. Naturally, it was both Patterson and Fox who would be cut by the A's before the season's first half had played out. Mostly due to Coco Crisp's injuries, Gross has started 20 games in LF (Patterson led the team with 21 starts out there). He's a 30-year-old spare part who's on team #4 in a nomadic journey that will surely span most of this decade, simply because of the "L" that appears next to the word "Bats:" on his baseball card.

Mid-Term Grade: C...I can't knock the 5th outfielder for playing too much when there aren't any other viable options on the active roster. Earlier this season, Gross made a spectacular
over-the-wall catch in Detroit's Comerica Park that'll make every end-of-season highlight reel. Seems like good people. But, if he's played the second most games in one of your team's corner outfield spots…your team isn't in first place.

And, the rest…: Prior to acquiring Conor Jackson, the erstwhile Diamondback had been on the DL with a hamstring injury. Not long after the A's
traded for Jackson, he landed on the DL with a hamstring injury. Oft-injured Travis Buck made the Opening Day roster due to another OF's late injury. Buck played in just 11 games before suffering his own injury (oblique) and hasn't been seen in Oakland since. Coco Crisp fractured his pinky finger just days before the A's opened the regular season. He returned on May 21…and, then injured his ribcage which caused him to miss another month. In 76 plate appearances, he's hit .277/.333/.554 and the rumors of a trade to the Padres are getting louder here in San Diego.

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