Rookies. The Athletics have had it's share of good ones in the past.
Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Walt Weiss, Ben Grieve, Bobby Crosby, and Andrew Bailey have all won the A.L. Rookie of the year. But this post isn't about the award of one great rookie, but about the cumulative total of good rookies the Athletics have brought up this year and where that stands compared to the rest of baseball. You may cry "small sample size" all over this post, and you would be right, but bare with me.
The Athletics may have had a few good candidates this year for R.O.Y. Lead by the A's youngest pitcher, 23 y.o. Jarrod Parker and his whole one earned run or less in 10/14 games to start his career thing, matched only by one other back in 1917. In the beginning of the year Yonis Cespedes was looking real strong but nagging injury's have derailed him.
This years R.O.Y is going to Mike Trout. Dude's 4.8 WAR in 64 games. No other rookie, hitter or pitcher, is above 2.2 WAR (Yu Darvish) and only two other major league players are higher than him in all of baseball and not by much. (Joey Votto 5.0 and David Wright 4.9). Both of them have played around 20 more games than Trout.
Jacob Ellsbury's 9.4 WAR led MLB last year in 158 games played. Mike Trout is on pace for 11.85 WAR in 158 games. He might be the favorite for M.V.P. at this point, something only two other rookies have ever pulled off. Fred Lynn and kind-of not really a rookie Ichiro Suzuki.
Question 1. Who was the last hitter to put up a WAR above 10 in MLB?
Let's look at top Athletics rookies in the field. Yoenis Cespedes. Chris Carter. Derek Norris.
Has been all hit, no field as UZR has his fielding as the second worst of all 38 qualified rookies in MLB this year. 37/38. Ouch. I don't think he's going to be that bad moving forward but it is holding him back and just butchering his WAR. That and nagging injuries. I think he has shown he can hit and adjust to major league pitching which was the biggest concern being Cuba is ruffly equivalent to AA baseball in the states. He is eighth right now in MLB rookie hitting stats like OPS (.790) and runs created. There have been flashes of stardom as he has thrived in late and close innings to a tune of a 1.300 OPS. He could be a consistent .850 OPS 30HR in the next 3 1/2 years IN Oakland. They have certainly found a starting LF/CF sometimes DH. Has he been worth his contract of 6.5 million this year? He would be a expensive DH, but he has the ceiling of someone worth more if he settles down in the field and stays healthy. Hopefully his skills will grow into his 10 million dollar future salary.
He has certainly opened some eyes this time around In his 6 games. (.4 WAR, 1.330 OPS). Way to little time to know anything and a betting man would still say he's going to be a bust based off his first two times seeing action. (.475ish cumulative OPS in 115 at bats in 2010/11). If he turns into a platoon first base/DH/PH who hits .265/.337/.435, in 400 at bats a year the Athletics would be very happy at this point. Anything more is getting unrealistically greedy.
The A's hoped they traded a #2 starter (Gio Gonzalez) for two guys who could be #2 starters,
One of them kind of a for sure guy soon (Brad Peacock), and one of them a lottery pick later (A.J. Cole),
they also received some throw- ins. A better than average starting catcher prospect who couldn't hit for average (Norris) and a, at best, back of the rotation lefty soft-tosser in Tom Milone.
Some scouting on that trade from Baseball Prospect Nation.
The throw-ins have performed already. But have you seen some of those terrible numbers Cole and Peacock have put up? 7+ ERA's do not impress and scream future Ace.
They both may turn it around, in Cole's case dropping to low A did turn it around going from a 7.82 ERA to 2.44. Plus age is on his side.
In Peacocks case I think AA and/or a few weeks rest should have happened weeks ago. He may drop more than any other top prospect who wasn't injured in next years rankings. He went 17-3 over three levels in 2011 topped off with 2 late season wins with Washington posting a .75 ERA in those two starts. He was suppose to be ready now.
He has one good number this year with a 3.68 FIP, but a .390 BABIP and 55% left on base percentage are going to get you the 7 ERA he has now. At some point it's not luck. His confidence has to be very low now also. His 11+ERA this month point to things getting worse.
This trade was the worst of the big three trade's the A's made and it was for their best player who is looking like a legit #1 starter now.
Norris has shown some flashes with his walk off and arm, however he has come down to earth a bit from his hot start and sits at a .700 ops. However since Suzuki has a .509 OPS and the Athletics had no other catcher some would almost be ready to make that trade strait up. They may have just found their next starting catcher for 5 years and he has much upside. He threw out 39 percent of base-runners in the minors ( 33 percent led MLB) and is considered solid defensively with 20 HR power. For the worst trade they made, they might still "Win" or break even if one of Cole/Peacock ever hit a #3 starter combined with Norris starting. Norris is also the A's youngest player beating out Parker by a few months.
So on the hitting side they seem to have found two starters in Cespedes and Norris, and one big maybe in Carter at 1b/dh/ph. 25% or more of our starting fielders the next 3-5 years seems to be a good rookie class.
Now lets get to the heart of the rookies with Nine Rookie A's pitchers. The Athletics lead the American League in ERA at 3.39. About 2/3rds of the A's staff is comprised of rookies. A's rookies pitchers stock the MLB rookie leader boards.
Yes ERA seems like an unfair advantage as a stat used to compair with our Home Park advantage, but its a stat people know, the NL has an ERA advantage when I compare ERA across leagues because of no DH, and according to ESPN park factors there are four worse pitchers parks in the AL alone. Add to that the A's 25/30 place in team defensive UZR and it would seem like our D isnt getting to as many balls as the average team would which can't help ERA. I also used some other stats to round out ERA.
Some stat terms used:
WAR- wins above replacement. adds up the total value that a player has hitting and fielding and pitching. More games = more WAR.
4 batters and one pitcher in MLB had a WAR above 8 last year. 17 batters and 6 pitchers had a WAR above 6 last year.
7 Relievers had a WAR above 2 last year. None higher than 3.2.
FIP- fielding independent pitching. what their ERA should be. sub 3 is great. 11 pitchers had less than 3 last year, four under 2.86.
xFIP- park adjusts home runs that should or should not have happened. This stat and SEIRRA are considered by some the top predictors of future performance. Sub 3 is excellent as only 4 pitchers had less than a 3 last year.
OPS-on base %+ slugging %.
Two had better than 1.000 last year, 17 above .850 last year.
K/9 - ten pitchers have more than 10 strikeouts per 9 innings this year.
Starters: Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin, Travis Blackley
30 rookies started and pitched more than 18 innings in MLB this year. The Athletics have 4 of the top 14 ERA leaders.
Jarrod Parker #5 rookie WAR, 8th rookie ERA 2.86. #2 starter.
Tommy Milone #12 rookie WAR, #14 ERA 3.57 #4 starter.
A.J. Griffin #1 Starter ERA 1.50 leads all starters in baseball rookie or not with batting average against of .127 #3 starter.
Only 18 ip, but has held the top two teams in runs scored to two hits apiece, at Texas and vr. Boston. 2.49 and 2.81 ERA at AA and AAA this year respectively.
Travis Blackley #6 rookie WAR. #11 ERA 3.10 #5 starter
Top 5 in rookie starter W/9, HR/9, and second in FIP. I don't know much about this guy anyone with a scouting report? #3 Mariners prospect back in 2004.
So the Athletics have found what looks like could be passable #2, #3, #4, #5 starters. But even if one of them with very few innings like Griffin regresses, they are not done calling people up this year.
Daniel Straily and his AA League(s) leading 11.39 K/9, 2.57 FIP, was recently promoted to AAA where all he has done in 25 innings is put up a 1.04 ERA, 2.20 FIP, and 11.43 K/9. He supposedly has better stuff than Griffin with four plus pitches.
With Colon and McCarthy coming and going and Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden coming back from injury around the time those two are dealt, we may not find out what Straily has till Sept call-ups.
So passable number 2, 4 and 5 starters. Not Bad for one rookie class with Griffin trying to settle in as a #3.
Of 44 qualifying reliever's, the A's have 2 of the top 6 ERA rookie reliever leaders and 3 of the top 16.
Open that up to those 59 rookies pitching more than 12 innings and the A's have 2 of top 3, 3 of top 7, 4 of top 12 and 5 of the top 19.
Ryan Cook- all-star closer. #3 rookie relief WAR. #2 rookie ERA at 1.41. Set a few Oakland rookie records for fewest runs to start a season. leader in batting average against at .103 in all of baseball rookie or not.
Sean Doolittle- all the advanced stats love him. In 14 IP. already #4 in rookie reliever WAR. K/9 leader at 14.7. This after posting a 18 K/9 in three stops (A,AA,AAA) while only pitching 2 months as a professional. W/9 Top 5, xFIP leader at 1.6. FIP leader at 0.41. The lefty maybe a better closer candidate than the excellent rookie occupying that spot. His small sample size may be possibly discounted with his unusual mix of super-stats and fast upword movement.
Jordan Norberto 15th rookie WAR. 3.03 era 3.34 fip. hard throwing lefty trying to make A's fans forget Brad Ziegler after they DFA'd Brandon Allen ( who's currently playing for AAA Tampa). Batters hitting .181 against him.
Jim Miller 1.78 ERA good for 6th. helped by his second best 93% left on base %. Advanced stats say above his head.
Pedro Figueroa 1.50 ERA. 96% lob. 12 inn. Was a hard throwing lefty starter till injury in 2011. Fun fact, the A's have lost every one of the nine games he appeared in, mostly by scoring only 1.66 runs a game.
So 3 starters, a closer, 8th inning set up and at least one other solid middle relief, probably a hard throwing lefty.
Maybe one more starter and reliever to that bunch. What a embarrassment of rookie pitching riches.
Probably found this year: OF,C, #2,#4,#5 starters, Closer, 8th inning, LHR.
Say the 1b/DH, #3 starter, and RP don't pan out, still leaving 8 good rookies in one year.
Anyone remember a team so full of rookie promise?
Question 1 - 2004 Barry Bonds. 11.9 WAR