Wednesday, March 16, 2011

30 A's in 30 Days: Steve Tolleson

Acquired: Claimed off waivers from Minnesota (February 1, 2010).
Contract: Signed through 2011 (not yet eligible for arbitration).
Position: Utility infielder; second-string, second-string player.

2011 Projected BA/OBP/SLG: .266/.333/.419

2010 Season: Tolleson spent most of the season at AAA-Sacramento where he shuttled from shortstop (54 games played), third base (13), second base (5) and the outfield (6). His 339 plate appearances and 80 games played only placed 7th and 8th on the River Cats, respectively, but with a wink and a nod toward sample-size caveats; Tolleson finished second on the team with a .915 OPS -- .332/.412/.503. (Pacific Coast League caveats require much larger lip service.) After a brief call-up to Oakland in late April, Tolleson spent the rest of the season on the Major League roster when he was recalled on August 13 to replace injured utility infielder, Adam Rosales. Tolleson didn't play much, but he did record back-to-back two-hit games against Toronto and a three-hit game against the Mariners. Fine...YOU try finding an interesting hook for a guy competing for the 25th and final spot on the A's roster. Go ahead, I'll wait. And, I did it without even mentioning
his father.

2011 Over/Under: Sweet Christmas! We've had Tolleson, 27, for a full year and I'm just NOW noticing his career minor league on-base percentage is .374 (2,471 plate appearances)?! This guy's actually being forced to compete with minor-leaguer Eric Sogard, 24, for a bench role while Adam Rosales continues his slow recovery from offseason ankle surgery? Furthermore...hey, wait a tick. Sogard's career minor league on-base percentage is .380 (1,990 PAs)?! Have I just written 250-some words about the wrong guy? Well, regardless who wins the roster spot, I'm concerned enough about Rosales' injury that either guy could play/produce enough to hit their OVER.

By the Numbers: .293 – The career slugging percentage of Steve's dad, Wayne Tolleson. Wayne's
Baseball-Reference page sums up decades of managerial groupthink on the subject of middle infielders. He came to the plate 378 times with the 1984 Texas Rangers and hit .213(!)/.276(!!)/.251(!!!). The 1987 New York Yankees gave him 398 plate appearances and watched him slug .241! Remember the '87 Yankees? They finished fourth in the AL East and blamed Rickey Henderson (.291/.423/.497; 17 HR, 41 SB) for their failures. 398 plate appearances! Wayne Tolleson!

Surefire 2011 Prediction: Let's have some fun with the final hitter -- Tolleson (or Sogard) will finish the season with more plate appearances than incumbent utility infielder Adam Rosales (ankle) and one of them will perform well enough to push Kevin Kouzmanoff out of the everyday third base job.

Old School Rap Track for the Season:
What U See is What U Get, Xzibit

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