Tuesday, February 1, 2011
2010 Final A'ssessment: The Offense
About a month ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who also subscribes to the MLB Extra Innings cable TV package every spring. "After six straight months of Yankees games", he said, "I'm completely burned out on baseball." During the season, my best guess is that I watch all or part of 130-140 A's games. Over the past few years -- when the playoffs rolled around -- I was DONE. I cannot remember the last time I watched an entire postseason game from beginning to end, as I use October through February to recharge my proverbial baseball batteries.
Consequently, pitchers and catchers report in two weeks and I still haven't found the motivation to finish the 2010 grades for my beloved A's. I covered our starting rotation and bullpen in detail, but for the hitters it's gotta be quick n' dirty or this'll never get done.
Kurt Suzuki -- C: Injured a rib cage muscle in late April and never seemed quite right after returning from the disabled list in mid-May. Spent months expanding the strike zone and swinging for the fences, but woefully miscast as a middle-of-the-order hitter. He slugged .294 in nearly 60 starts in the three-hole. Defense and game-calling remain top-notch. Grade: C
Daric Barton -- 1B: By pretty much every metric -- traditional and esoteric -- he was the A's best player in 2010. Posted a .393 OBP with 33 doubles while playing nearly top-tier defense at first base. The latter accomplishment is no small feat as Barton was brutal with the glove when he debuted full time just three seasons ago. Only hit 10 home runs, but half of those came over the season's final five weeks. Grade: B+
Mark Ellis -- 2B: In last year's "30 A's in 30 Days" feature, I predicted the A's dearth of MLB-ready second base prospects and Ellis' unspectacular efficiency would force the team to pick up his 2011 option...and, that's what happened. He posted his best numbers (.291/.358/.381) since 2007 and played his usual awesomely anonymous defense. As always, he missed several weeks with an injury. Grade: B
Cliff Pennington -- SS: His arm is just one superfluous first-name vowel from being mentioned alongside Shawon Dunston's. Posted respectable first half numbers at the plate (.264/.333/.392), but really struggled in the second half (.232/.300/.336). By virtue of him not being Bobby Crosby, I'm willing to wait and see how he adjusts to the grind in 2011. Grade: C+
Kevin Kouzmanoff -- 3B: For the third straight year, his OPS continued its gradual slide towards the replacement-level abyss. Since a solid 2007 season in San Diego, his OPS has been .732, .722 and .679. In his defense, Kouzmanoff battled a bad back at times. The A's still spent most of this offseason attempting to sign or trade for his immediate replacement. Grade: D+
Rajai Davis -- LF: From 2009 to 2010, Davis lost 40 points in OBP and almost 50 points in SLG. The most likely explanation -- his unsustainable .361 BABIP in '09 fell to .322 last year. Davis was traded to Toronto shortly after the season and while I'll miss the skills he brought to the A's lineup, I won't miss his occasional lapses in concentration both in the field and on the basepaths. Grade: B-
Coco Crisp -- CF: Crisp broke his left pinky finger while sliding into second base during the A's final spring training game. He didn't play in his first regular season game until May 21 and then he went back to the DL a few days later with a strain in his rib cage. Crisp was having a strong finish to his abbreviated 2010 campaign (.304/.360/.446 in August and September) when he broke the same finger on September 18. His defense is a joy to behold. Grade: B-
Ryan Sweeney -- RF: In a make-or-break season, the 25-year-old broke. Surgery on one of his long-problematic knees ended Sweeney's season in mid-July. His 2010 slash line (.284/.341/.387) was almost identical to his career numbers at the start of last season -- including the unacceptable power output for a corner outfielder. Grade: C
Jack Cust -- DH: One of my favorite A's of recent vintage, the team really shouldn't have brought him back last season. That said, Cust deserved better than the two-days-before-Opening Day demotion to the minor leagues followed by six weeks in triple-A limbo. He ended up with 425 plate appearances in Oakland, but he can't catch up to decent fastballs anymore. His power continued to slowly erode, while his uncharacteristically high batting average (.272) was due in no small part to his fluky .387 BABIP. Grade: B-
And, the rest...in two sentences or less.
Landon Powell -- C: After a respectable rookie campaign as the A's back-up catcher, Powell spent the first six weeks of the season see-sawing between Oakland and AAA-Sacramento. Never really got going at the plate.
Adam Rosales -- IF: Known for his goofy 100-meter dash home run trot, he was a capable fill-in when Mark Ellis went down with a leg injury in the early going. Solid against LHP all season.
Gabe Gross -- OF: He'll always have this.
Chris Carter -- OF: Entered the season as the A's top prospect, he was called up to Oakland in early August -- and started his career 0 for 33. These Canseco-ian clouts give me hope, though.