Saturday, March 12, 2011
30 A's in 30 Days: Cliff Pennington
Acquired: Drafted in first round (2005).
Contract: Signed through 2011 (possibly eligible for arbitration after 2011).
Position: Starting shortstop; glove work worthy of classic sci-fi nickname.
2011 Projected BA/OBP/SLG: .248/.329/.349
2010 Season: Handed the everyday shortstop job, Pennington finished second among American League shortstops in WAR -- "Ahead of Derek Jeter!", the sabermetricians breathlessly add. His value is almost entirely tied to his defense. The thousands of comparisons I've made on this lightly-read blog to former Cubs SS Shawon Dunston's bionic throws from deep in the hole aren't the usual myopic hooey. Pennington's arm is an automatic weapon while his positioning, hands and reactions improved throughout the season. Defensor! Rolls right off the tongue.
2011 Over/Under: Pennington's post-All Star break OPS was 89 points lower than what he posted in the first half of the season and after July 31, his on-base percentage was just .294. Last year was Pennington's first full season in the big leagues, so it's conceivable he'll be more prepared to handle the physical and mental grind in 2011. His career minor league OBP was .362 and for a few days in late April, Pennington held the team lead in home runs with three. With THAT kind of resume, take the OVER.
By the Numbers: .320, .683 -- Maybe I should find a new comp for Cliff Pennington since Shawon Dunston's highest single-season on-base percentage (as an everyday player) was just .320. Hey, how about the former A's shortstop who spent seven years in Oakland and compiled a mediocre .683 OPS in more than 2,600 plate appearances? That number is only four points less than the .687 OPS put up by Pennington last year! That former A's shortstop? Bobby Crosby. F*ck.
Surefire 2011 Prediction: This spring, the team has been especially cautious with Pennington and his surgically repaired (non-throwing) shoulder. All signs indicate that Pennington will be 100% before Opening Day. I hope he enjoyed accumulating almost one-third of his 2010 plate appearance outside of the number nine spot. That nonsense won't repeat itself in 2011.
Old School Rap Track for the Season: Short But Funky, Too $hort