So I guess we're not going to win the World Series in 2012. Sorry for the spoiler alert. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop being an A's fan. In fact, I'm excited about 2012. We're not going to win, but for long-term A's fans, there is a glimmer of hope. We get to see who we're going to be rooting for over the next six years.
For me, this is doubly exciting. My favorite player is and always has been Rickey Henderson. Unfortunately for me, I haven't really had another favorite since he retired. I'm hoping that somewhere in this next crop of guys that there's a guy I can follow. We really need several of Brandon Allen, Chris Carter, Collin Cowgill, Kila Ka'aihue, Jai Miller, and Michael Taylor to pan out for us to be competitive in 2013-2016. Who knows, maybe this is the core of the next great run.
Unfortunately, I'm not a minor league talent evaluator, so I'm stuck with Fangraphs wRC+. I live in Fort Worth, TX, so I have no idea what these guys looked like in Sacramento or wherever Cowgill, Allen, and Kila have been playing. Instead, let's look at their respective wRC+ over the last three years in the minors. I have excluded all major league experience for each of these guys and only included their performance in the minors.
A few observations on these stats. For the most part, these stats were accumulated in AAA. Cowgill, however, progressed up the ladder from high A ball to AA to AAA in each season.
The three best seasons among these guys are from Kila (173 wRC+ in 2010), Chris Carter (165 wRC+ in 2009) and Michael Taylor (162 wRC+ in 2009). The problem with Taylor is that he also put up the two worst seasons. Kila and Jai tied Taylor's second worst season with very average 103 wRC+ seasons. Let's face it - I only included Jai Miller in the discussion so that I wouldn't have to answer the question of why I didn't put in the guy that hit 30+ bombs in AAA in 2011. Not only is his strikeout rate ridiculous, he simply doesn't have the numbers to compete with any of the other guys except Michael Taylor. To me, that says that Taylor and Jai have alot to prove before they jump any of these other guys.
You may be asking yourself, "Where is Daric Barton in this discussion?" Great question. Daric Barton does not belong in this discussion whatsoever. He is one injury plagued season removed from a 5 WAR 2010. He does not belong in a conversation with six players who have a combined -1.2 career WAR. Period. Our outfield will also have Swingles somewhere in the mix. He would probably provide the most WAR next year, if given the chance. However, I would prefer to see us win one fewer game and figure out who among the youth movement is actually worth keeping on the field.
I personally would love to see Chris Carter turn out to be the power hitting DH of the future. It's not like we have any other guys that can really hit but can't play the field that we should be giving those AB's to anyway.. Since we know he can't field, we might as well see if he can hit at the Major League level. I also want to see if Brandon Allen can be as good as all of the quotes everyone made up. I'm also kinda hoping that this Cowgill guy is our starting center fielder next year. It remains to be seen what we're going to get out of the crop that's a couple years younger than these 25-26 year olds. Parker, Green, and Choice all have shown some promise, but I really have no idea how they'll develop.
None of these guys will ever be Rickey Henderson. But maybe someone can be my new favorite active player.