NOTE: In case you haven't heard, the A's have designated Brian Fuentes for assignment to make room on the roster for Bartolo Colon.
After yesterday's win against the Red Sox, the A's are at the exact halfway point of the season, currently standing 3 games under .500. After the 9-game losing streak, and then fattening up a little on Interleague play, the A's have found themselves looking over a long line for the last play-in wild card spot. While A's fans would love to see our heroes reel off a 9-game winning streak, realistically, this season is still about figuring what the team has at each position. Follow me after the jump for a grade of each position:
SP: By FIP, the A's have the 6th ranked staff in the AL. at 4.06. Amazingly, this has been done with Brandon McCarthy missing about 3 weeks and counting, Bartolo Colon missing two weeks himself, and Travis Blackley stepping in as a waiver wire pickup. This also counts several starts from Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey, respectively. It should be no surprise to anyone that the A's can make lemonade out of pitching lemons.
RP: Ryan Cook's all-star selection is perhaps the most inspiring story in what has otherwise been a feast-or-famine season thus far. 11 blown saves (if you don't like saves, their combined WPA is -0.32 and they have had 31 meltdowns). Their 114 walks is second only to the Royals bullpen. On the other hand, Sean Doolittle is an experiment gone right, Jerry Blevins has more than filled Breslow's role, Jordan Norberto is a useful pitcher (don't know about the beard, though), and Jim Miller eats innings and fans' hearts.
C: Let's just lay it out there: Kurt Suzuki is having an awful season at -0.3 WAR. His backups, Anthony Recker and Josh Donaldson, were even worse. Derek Norris' ascension and fast start has made an otherwise black hole of production look somewhat promising for the remainder of the year. Plus, dude has the best facial hair on the team.
Grade C- (only because of Norris)
1B: Daric Barton. Kila Ka'aihue. Adam Rosales. Chris Carter. Brandon Moss. 3 of those guys are in Sacramento, and 2 are platooning. How do you grade that? I'm just hoping Carter gets the majority of the PAs going forward.
2B: Jemile Weeks is slumping. He's walking more (10.5% compared to 4.8% last year), and striking out a little less. He's also hitting 2% fewer line drives, 8% more groundballs, and 3% or so more popups. Some of that is straight-up bad luck, but some of that signals that he's beating balls into the ground instead of getting them over infielders' heads.
SS: Pennington is who he is. Below-average offensively, above-average defensively. Granted, his hitting has gone down to the tune of having a 60 wRC+ this year, but Brandon Hicks isn't the answer either.
3B: You know who the second most-valuable position player is by WAR on the A's? Brandon Inge. He's playing above-average defense at 3rd base and turned that position from a bunch of horrible into very tolerable. Yeah, he's riding on the coattails of that ridiculous offensive tear he went on earlier in the year, but that still counts.
OF: For all the hand-wringing about the A's fielding a lineup of 3 Ryan Sweeneys (literally), the outfield has managed to be a real bright spot. Josh Reddick is a steal for Billy Beane and is statistically the best RF in the AL. Yoenis Cespedes is out of position when he plays LF, but his hitting is clearly superstar potential. Seth Smith is an OBP machine. Jonny Gomes is maybe the best scrapheap pickup anyone in the AL made.
What are your position grades? What do you want to see more of in the 2nd half? Who to trade away?
Join me tonight for the gamethread a little before 7.