Can the A's outfielder sustain his outstanding start?
Listen to a hitting coach or a television broadcast long enough, and the term “controlling the strike zone” is bound to surface. It has become synonymous with plate discipline or, even more simply, a batter’s “patience” at the dish.
If these players are on your league's waiver wire, they might be worth a look, depending on the format in which you play.
Welcome back to our weekly walk through some of the players who may want to keep an extra eye on in your leagues. Mike and I will be tackling this topic on Thursdays again and focusing on a singular hitter and pitcher in four of the more popular formats: shallow mixed, deep mixed, NL-only and AL-only. These are certainly not the only players who are worth pickups, but it gives us a nice opportunity to write about players we have close tabs on in our leagues.
A power-packed middle of the order and a postseason darling on the mound are among the players who ought to pique your interest in Bob Melvin's bunch.
The Athletics were the surprise winners of the AL West last year, relying on a power-heavy offense and good, young pitching to conquer preseason favorites in Texas and Los Angeles (of Anaheim).
Fantasy owners who took gambles on some Athletics players last year were largely rewarded, as some oft-injured contributors stayed healthy, while some relative unknowns emerged as reliable fantasy assets. Were said performances sustainable, or should fantasy players stay away from the offense-suppressing environment in Oakland? We take a look in this early preview.
The A's bring up a power-hitting outfielder, though his window to contribute meaningfully may not open until next year.
The Situation: After posting a strong .302/.390/.445 slash line in 132 games at Triple-A Sacramento, Choice has received his first call to Oakland. It’s a true September call-up, as Choice isn’t being brought up with the expectation that he’ll receive regular at-bats in the club’s chase for a postseason berth. As reported by A’s beat writer Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Choice’s call “is a reward for a solid season by a high-profile prospect.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean Choice can’t make an impact or work his way into some playing time. Oakland’s outfield situation is tenuous at present, with Chris Young and Seth Smith underperforming while Josh Reddick is on the shelf for at least another week. As a result, regular first baseman Brandon Moss has taken over in right field––filling in for Reddick––with Daric Barton and Nate Freiman working the first-base platoon. While the unstable situation could yield a slight window of opportunity for Choice, it’s more likely that his first serious look comes next spring.
The second half of our outfield rankings takes you from Carl Crawford through Chris Davis.
The Baseball Prospectus fantasy team has been rolling out its positional rankings over the past couple of weeks, and will conclude the process next week. Each team member assigned to cover a position will create an initial top 15 (more for outfielders and starting pitchers) on his own. He will then send that list to the rest of the team for discussion, at which point we will debate the rankings, both in terms of each player’s specific placement and the merits on which he was included in the top 15. This back-and-forth debate will yield the final list, which will be presented by the original author with notes on the pertinent players. We encourage you to bring your opinions into the fray using the comment section below.
Today, we continue the rankings with the second half of our outfielders list, featuring the players ranked 26-50. We released our top 25 outfielders on Wednesday, and you can view that article here.
If you can believe in Chris Carter, you can believe in this year's Athletics.
I write this on Wednesday evening. It is mid-August. The Ides of August, even, though you're reading this the day after. The Oakland Athletics are 61-55, counting the Wednesday loss to the Royals. The last time the A's had a record this good this late was 2006, when they won the AL West behind Frank Thomas's bat and then went 3–4 in the playoffs—three wins against the Twins and four losses to the Tigers.
They're not looking at the division crown this year. They were up 5 1/2 games in the Short Stack in 2006, and they're down six now. Six games doesn't sound like a lot when there are 46 still to play, especially with seven of those 46 against the first-place Rangers. But it is a lot. The Rangers are a better team than the A's, so those games remaining are more likely to bury the Green & Gold than they are to become their salvation. This is why Oakland is only given a 1 percent chance at winning the division in the current iteration of our Playoff Odds. (Current as of my writing, anyway, which doesn't incorporate the Wednesday games yet, though I'll eat my hat with mustard if that figure differs much as you're reading this.)
Is it too soon to write the obituary for the 2012 Oakland A's?
As an A's blogger, I've considered it a point of honor, my sacred duty, really, to avoid writing in this space about the Oaklands. At this point, though, even after a 12-1 whipping of the best team in baseball on Monday, a whipping that included Jarrod Parker carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning, the team is so bad that I feel compelled to put my misery on display.
As I write this, in the evening on Tuesday, June 5th, the team with the 11th pick in the ongoing draft sits at 24-31, the third-worst record in the American League and the sixth-worst in baseball. That's bad, but probably not bad enough to justify an essay on a general-interest website of this caliber about their badness. The Cubs still exist, after all.