Mid-Season Report Card: The Hitters

Which players on the team need to alter their report card before showing it to their parents?

Today is America’s birthday, meaning the All-Star break is right around the corner the middle point of the season is quickly approaching. Technically the exact middle was the 81st game last Friday, a 6-1 win over St. Louis, but for all intents and purposes the All-Star break has always been considered the halfway point of the season. As such, I thought it would be fun to grade the performance of the team so far. I’m going to divide hitters and pitchers into two different entries since it would get pretty lengthy to do the whole team all in one.

Every player that has suited up for the A’s in 2013 will receive a grade, although those haven’t played enough (at least 50 at-bats or 20 innings pitched) will get an incomplete.

Infielders

Josh Donadlson (3.7 WAR, 153 OPS+) – Coming into 2013 the hope was Josh would continue to tear apart pitching the way he did in the second half of last season. He has exceeded expectations so far and has been the most consistent and damaging hitter on the team. Combined with Gold Glove-caliber defense, Josh has shown he is one of the best third basemen in the league and deserves a trip to the All-Star Game. Grade: A+

Nate Freiman (-0.2 WAR, 110 OPS+) – You may look at his WAR and think, “What the hell?” but the truth is numbers don’t always tell the whole story, especially when you’re a platoon player. In his first year in the bigs, 6’8″ Nate has received sporadic playing time with just 106 ABs in 44 games. Although his slash line is painfully average (.283/.336/.415) he has improved his approach as the season has progressed and he is killing left-handed pitching with a .338 average. However, he’s batting just .138 against righties and his defense has been spotty at best. Still, he’s performed decently in limited time. Grade: C+

John Jaso – (0.7 WAR, 109 OPS+) – He still can’t hit lefties and his defense is porous, but Jaso always gives quality ABs and runs the bases better than any catcher in all of baseball. His power output is way down from last season (slugging .362 this year compared to .456 last year) but his mastery of the strike zone has ensured that pitchers need to work a little bit harder to get him out and has him tied for the team lead in OBP at .375. Grade: C

Jed Lowrie (2.5 WAR, 124 OPS+) – Lowrie has always had the talent to succeed, he just couldn’t stay on the field very much. This year, he has avoided the injury bug and has pounded out hits non-stop. His defense is a bit suspect at times, but the trade to bring him over from Houston looks better and better with each passing day. Grade: A-

Brandon Moss (0.9 WAR, 119 OPS+) – Although Moss has struggled with consistency this year the power is still there (15 homers, tied for team lead) and his overall production is not too far off what he did last season. After a hot start last season there was a stretch where pitchers seemingly figured him out, but after some adjustments he went back to smashing. There’s no reason to think he can’t do the same this year. Grade: C+

Derek Norris  (0.4 WAR, 81 OPS+) – Tuesday’s walk-off homer not withstanding, Norris has been bad with the lumber in 2013. Although his walk rate is climbing back up to his Minor League levels, Norris still has trouble making consistent contact and often finds himself lunging at low pitches. His work behind the dish has been his strong point. He’s having trouble now but at 24-years-old he still has time to get his it together. Grade: D

Adam Rosales (0.3 WAR, 71 OPS+) – It’s hard for me to write anything bad about Rosales because he plays like he’s going to be executed after the game, but he has been wildly inconsistent this season. Just when you think his time with the A’s is done and a DFA is imminent, he’ll bop an important home run and make you feel like there’s still something there like an ex-lover who can’t stop being flirtatious. Grade: D-

Even with his glasses on Eric Sogard couldn't find the plate. (Photo: Steve Bowles - Left Field Bleachers)

Even with his glasses on Eric Sogard couldn’t find the plate. (Photo: Steve Bowles – Left Field Bleachers)

Eric Sogard (1.5 WAR, 87 OPS+) – Sogard is a hard player to define. He has generated a nice WAR in 67 games and plays great defense, but he lacks power and doesn’t have the top-end speed you want from a light-hitting middle infielder. He may not be the typical definition of an everyday guy, but he is a solid player who can make important contributions here and there. Grade: B-

Luke Montz (-0.3 WAR, 61 OPS+) – I didn’t realize you could generate that negative of a WAR in just 28 ABs, but I guess that’s what happens when you only get five hits. I’d be surprised if we ever see him at the Major League level again. Grade: Incomplete

Andy Parrino (-0.6 WAR, 2 OPS+) – Holy shit, Parrino did Montz one better by generating -0.6 WAR in just 24 ABs. I’m really tempted to give them both an ‘F’ but I suppose it’s not really fair since then didn’t exactly get an extended look. Grade: Incomplete

Daric Barton (-0.1 WAR, 40 OPS+) – Just accept the fact that everybody’s favorite first baseman is never going away. Grade: Incomplete

Stephen Vogt (-0.2 WAR, 41 OPS+) – Vogt got the call just last week and has only played in four games, but at least he was finally able to notch his first big league hit and home run. I like his approach at the plate and I’m curious to see how he’ll do moving forward. Grade: Incomplete

Scott Sizemore (-0.2 WAR, 36 OPS+) – Poor bastard. One has to wonder if his knee can ever hold up again. Grade: Incomplete

Shane Peterson (0 WAR, 15 OPS+) – Only played in two games, with one hit in seven at-bats. He had an incredible season with Sacramento last year, but he’s hitting just .233 there right now. Grade: Incomplete

Outfielders

Yoenis Cespedes (0.9 WAR, 101 OPS+) – After a sensational rookie season, Cespedes looked primed to gun for the AL MVP in 2013. However, he has only been able to let his true potential shine through on irregular occasion. All of his numbers are down across the board, and his refinements on defense we saw early in the season seem to be falling by the wayside lately. He also must get back to being more selective at the plate, and using the whole field instead of trying to pull everything. He has too much talent to not put it all together for the second half. Grade: C-

Coco Crisp (2.4 WAR, 126 OPS+) – With maybe the exception of 2005, Coco is having the best year of his career. His power output is up and he’s still snagging bases, but the real reason for his success this season is his patience at the plate. His .361 OBP is the highest of his career by far. Coco is swinging less often and is making more contact when he does. He’s also playing his usual solid defense and has proven himself to be a leader of the team. Grade: A

You can't run away from your problems, Josh! (Photo: Steve Bowles - Left Field Bleachers

You can’t run away from your problems, Josh! (Photo: Steve Bowles – Left Field Bleachers

Josh Reddick (1.0 WAR, 73 OPS+) – Josh has had trouble getting it going this season and an early wrist injury certainly didn’t help matters. At times he looks completely lost at the plate, despite swinging less and making more contact (compared to last year) when he does. Although Josh hasn’t always had the best approach in the box, his .244 BABIP suggests he has been the victim of some extremely bad luck. I can’t even begin to guess how many times Josh has hit one right on the screws, only to see it jump straight into a defender’s glove. Hopefully his fortunes will change and more of those hard-hit balls will start to fall in for hits. At the very least he’s still playing great defense, and the league is extremely reluctant to challenge his arm. Grade: D+

Chris Young (-0.5 WAR, 81 OPS+) – Coming into the season I knew Young wasn’t the best hitter for average but I didn’t think it would be this bad at .191. In one at-bat he’ll be behind every pitch and look like a guy from the stands who just came on the field to take a few cuts, and in his next he’ll blast a fastball to the second deck in left field. His insanely low BABIP of .212 indicates he’s had worse luck than Reddick, but his approach to hitting is his biggest issue. Normally renown for his defense, Young has looked extremely shaky in the field and has already generated -0.5 dWAR. Grade: F

Seth Smith (0.7 WAR, 116 OPS+) – Agent Smith has been solid all year and his production is right in line with his career numbers. Known to struggle against lefties in the past, Smith has improved against southpaws this year, batting .269 against them. He’s never been known for his defense, but his metrics say he’s a solid defender this year and always has been. Come to think of it, the best way to describe Smith’s overall game would be ‘solid.’ Maybe we should call him Seth Solid. Grade: B

Michael Taylor (-0.7 WAR, -51 OPS+) – I was really hyped on Taylor when the A’s traded for him back in December 2009 but after three horrendous (albeit very brief) stints in the show it looks like it just isn’t ever going to happen for the Stanford alum. At 27, he’s way past the age of being a prospect, and he realistically only has another year or two to prove he can stick at the big league level. At this point I don’t see it happening, so it’s a good thing he has a degree from one of the best universities on the planet. Grade: Incomplete

Casper Wells (-0.1 WAR, -100 OPS+) – Casper, we hardly knew ye. Grade: Incomplete

Either later on tonight or tomorrow I’ll be grading the pitching staff, so keep on the lookout for that. So, what say you? How would you grade the A’s performance so far in 2013?

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