It's been a tough season. Rajai Davis, Bobby Crosby, and dearly-departed Jack Hannahan-combat (among others) have all seen way more ABs than they should see in their entire careers. OCab's OBP has hovered near Bengie Molina territory most of the year. Outman's injury. Ziggy's flu. Our atrocious offense. Our "manager" who until recently appeared not to have a pulse, making him the first Zombie-American to manage in the Bigs. Buck, who continues to get the Inexplicable Shaft (sequel to Shaft? Too bad Isaac Hayes is dead). Duke's been out, Devine's been out, Chavez has been out - three top performers all sidelined. Barton's continued suckitude. Heartbreaking losses.
But y'now what? All that - and more - has been well documented. There's been a lot of negativity here - much of it from me, in the form of comments like "Why is Rajai Davis still allowed to play baseball?" and the terse "Fail." And so, as we head into the ASB, inspired in part by 67MARQUEZ's awesome positivity post, I'd like to take a little time to say something nice (or more) about every player, from Braden all the way down to Crosbo and Springer.
We'll go alphabetically by position here, starting with Pitchers:
Brett Anderson: Besides sharing the same first name, we have something else in common: we both threw 2-hit shutouts at Fenway Park. The only difference was, his shutout occurred in reality, but whatever. Buster Olney recently wrote about how his velocity has done nothing but increase since high school. The dude is only 21 and is totally adorable, and I can't wait until he develops into a star. An adorable star.
Andrew Bailey: Let's go the opposite way here: what's NOT to like about this guy? Only answer: he's not my BFF, so I'm jealous of whoever is. Leads AL relievers in strikeouts, is an All-Star, could very well be Rookie of the Year, and he came out of nowhere to do so. Of all the man-crushes I have on baseball players, few rival the one I have on the Bailster. The Bailerino. AB Positive. And so on.
Dallas Braden: Man, this list is starting out easy. Maybe the key is to trade for a roster of all A's and B's? Oh wait: Bobby Crosby. Anyway, back to Dallas Braden. It's hard to say anything new about why this guy rules so much, so I won't really try. But I will say that for a fanbase that is highly sabermetric-leaning and very reliant upon statistical research, he has sure won us over with his grit and intangibles. A couple years ago if you'd told me he would be the ace of the staff this year and a viable All-Star candidate (seriously), I'd have said, "that dude with the hair?" But yeah, Past Self: That Dude With The Hair.
Craig Breslow: I don't know much about The Brezzmeister, but I do know that he is very smart and knows lots of science and medecine and started a nonprofit to help kids with cancer. He went to Yale, and according to wikipedia, is the first Yalie to reach the majors since Ron Darling, and I have a soft spot for Darling because when I was a kid on the radio the A's used to do this "who is pitching for the A's RIGHT NOW??" and the 5th caller would get two free tickets, and I ran out of the bath where I used to listen to games and streaked across the living room naked and called and totally won free tickets one day when Darling was pitching. In conclusion, Craig Breslow is tight.
Trevor Cahill: Trevor Cahill is like 15 years old and has the weirdest, craziest movement on his pitches ever - some call his sinker "the baseball version of Nicholas Cage's career." If he learns to control where they go, he could be a force. He also warms up to a Jefferson Airplane song. Like Anderson, he is a total cutie.
Santiago Casilla: This man has two full names. Who among us can say that?
Edgar Gonzalez: AKA "the lesser of two Gonzalezes," he got 2 hits in a game he pitched in as a reliever this year. Who among us can say that?
Gio Gonzalez: Gio's had a strange career, transaction-wise. Drafted by the White Sox, he was traded to the Phillies with Aaron Rowand (and another dude) for Jim Thome. Then the White Sox were all like "Oh shit!" and got him back, along with Gavin Floyd, for Freddy Garcia. He's got a cool first name, is young, and exciting, so that's good.
Vin Mazzaro: Namesake of Mazarro World, he joins such classic Vins as Diesel and Scully as he tries to carve out his own legacy. He's only 22 and was born in a town called Hackensack, which is funny. Our week spent in Mazarro world will be remembered as the best week of the 2009 season.
Russ Springer: Four times older than the next oldest player on the team besides Giambi and Nomah, Springer's last name must immediately be followed by "I hardly know 'er!" under penalty of mockery. He clearly hates Barry Bonds, as he showed while with the Astros, and as I recall it was a bit perplexing that he kept throwing at him. He sucks now, but apparently in 2007 he went 8-1 with a 2.18 ERA. He's pitched 17 seasons with a 96 career ERA+ as a reliever, which is kind of amazing.
Michael Wuertz: Even though my catchphrase "What's the Wuertz that could happen?" has not caught on for whenever he enters the game, he's still damn solid. He strikes out hella fools, doesn't allow many hits, and has one of those classic baseball faces. You know those faces? 'Cause he has one.
Brad Ziegler: Brad Ziegler is, to my knowledge, the only former Athletics Nation Blogger ever to suffer two major baseball-related head injuries AND set a major league record for longest scoreless streak to start a career. He's gotta be one of the most likeable guys in baseball, has a funky delivery, and is a great example of a non-prospect having success in the majors.
Landon Powell: He has a really strange body type, and in his first ever AB he doubled off King Felix. I don't now why exactly, but I really like Powell. He just seems so nice. Like, "Hey Landon, wanna go throw the frisbee around?" "Yeah sure!" kind of nice.
Kurt Suzuki: Also known as "The American Suzuki," Kurt is pretty beloved here at AN. As far as I know he has never dived headfirst into home plate to save the game, nor has he sprinted home after KRod dropped the throw back from the catcher - but as long as he isn't named Jason Kendall, I like the guy. I love his swing, his play at catcher, and his general attitude.
Orlando Cabrera: This one isn't easy. I have been particularly hard on OCab, mostly because of his record-setting streak of 50 straight plate appearances grounding into a double play with the bases loaded and one out. Little help?
Bobby Crosby: This one is even harder. I'll say that one thing I love about Crosby is that when he hits the ball hard, he hits it REALLY HARD. He also won RoY with an OPS+ of 93, which means he must be in the mafia or something, which is cool.
Mark Ellis: Dude holds a record that, in my mind, is just a step below Ripken's unbreakable consecutive-games streak: most career home runs by someone born in South Dakota. He's also an excellent fielder, and I have a soft spot for him because we've both suffered the same injury (though mine did not involve a collision with Crobby Bosby, thank goodness). Also, he posted an .861 OPS in 2005. I totally didn't realize it had been that high because back then, my concept of good batters involved swear words like RBI's and Batting Average and he only had 52 RBIs that year LOL.
Nomar Garciaparra - Everyone knows that Nomar is Ramon backwards, but did you know that Garciaparra is also the reverse of his mother's name, Arrapaicrag? He also saved the lives of two women who fell into Boston Harbor. Look it up.
Jason Giambi: The very definition of a "grizzled veteran," Jason has not quite replicated his MVP season this year, but he does have just 2 fewer walks than hits, which is really something. Managing an 89 OPS+ with an average of .192 is actually pretty impressive. I liked the signing at the time, and I'd be lying if I said I still like it now, but: I still like it now. Oops!
Adam Kennedy: Owner of the ugliest swing around, AK was for a long time the only hitter worth watching in the A's lineup. He's fallen back down to Earth but has still been very solid, and is another of the "gritty + intangibles" ilk that we've grown fond of. Really love the guy.
Rajai Davis: Another whipping boy, Rajai was once a part of one of the more perplexing trades in human history, when he was sent to the Giants for Matt Morris, who at the time was being paid a lot of money to do very little. Now he runs fast, and um, steals a base sometimes? Help?
Scott Hairston: Ooh, if he'd been on the team when we got demolished by the Giants, things woulda turned out different! (shaking fist)!! I like this guy. He has a huge baseball family: (from baseball-reference): Brother of Jerry Hairston, son of Jerry Hairston, Grandson of Sammy Hairston, and nephew of Johnny Hairston. That's amazing! Sammy Hairston played one season for the White Sox, racking up a 221 OPS+ in the large sample size of 7 PA's., so the pedigree's there.
Matt Holliday: Is one of the only A's to post an OPS+ of over 100, so that's something. I guess this is what I like about Matt Holliday: the future prospects he will land us. Yeah. That and the fact that it's nice to have an actual real hitter in the lineup, despite his struggles.
Ryan Sweeney: He's more of a hit with the ladies than with the bat, and apparently he's not a great defender, but goddamn it if he doesn't make some spectacular catches in center. Plus he's responsible for the only time I've ever seen emotion on Matt Holliday's face, when he made that game-ending, gave-winning catch with 2 outs in the 9th that one time and Holliday looked all excited and jumpy. And those eyes!
Jack Cust: Jack Cust is my favorite baseball player. There's been a lot of discussion around here about his struggles this year - are his skills deteriorating? Did he change his approach? What's the deal with airplane food? When it comes down to it, though, baseball has never seen such an extreme three true outcomes player, and we'll never forget his first week with the A's. I hope he turns it around, because I love the guy.