Los A: Comparing the A's and the Giants

JS: Let's do something: so sick of Giants and their fans right now. Let's compare the two teams to see who is better.The thing is most people are too drugged out on KNBR to actually realize the A's won 94 games just like the beloved Giants...and the A's won it in a much tougher division. I hate the "new" giants fans. Seriously if they were to finish 3rd this year the Bay wouldn't have enough space for all the people that would jump off the bandwagon."

SJS: I don't know if I agree with you. Well, I agree that the KNBR thing is really excessive. But give the Giants credit for connecting with their fan base in a way that the A's never have tried to do. "New" Giants fans tend to become "Permanent" Giants fans right around the time they win their 2nd World Series in 3 years. Insufferable though they may be.

Chalk this up to yet another reason why the A's need to move to San Jose. The Giants have their fan base tied up in a tidy little package; the team's fans, their corporate sponsors, and their broadcasting resources are all located along a 50-mile line from the City to the South Bay. Any Giants fan who wants to can hop a train to AT&T; any Giants advertiser knows where his target market is; and all of them basically gravitate toward Planet KNBR. It's a very virtuous cycle. The A's just don't have that.

If the Giants spend the next 10 years at the bottom of the NL West there won't be a run for the exits. The team has earned this fan base. Give them credit.

JS: OK, let's compare. I'll start out, you write something.
Starting Pitching edge...Giants but not as overwhelming as everyone thinks

Relief Pitching edge....A's it might not even be close

1st Base, statistically Moss is a better hitter, Belt a much better fielder edge A's

2nd Base, Scutaro is career wise a journey man...granted he had incredible 2012....I'll give Giants edge because a situation unsettled

SS, Lowrie...again this is close. Crawford has no pop thou Edge A's

3rd...Forget it Giants

C...Forget it Giants

RF....Reddick over Pence. Edge A's

CF...maybe surprising but I think Crisp is a better offensive player, but not enough to offset Pagan being better fielder...I would say tie

LF...Forget it A's

Bench...Edge A's

Based on these 11 components (positions) A's win 6 comparisons, Giants win 4, and 1 tie.

SS: I am going to go into a little more depth. First off, I think you have to add a little bit of granularity, so I'll give each player a 1-2-3 rating with 3 being the best. Hard to pick who's "better" between players without deciding HOW MUCH better. For my perspective, a 3 is a star, 2 will be an above-average regular, and 1 will be replacement-level starter/platoon player.

I'm also going to take off your "Bench" category and define it as "Platoon" since it will clearly be a part of the A's strategy this season. If several players will man a position, does the platoon arrangement make the team better? (think Carter/Moss last season)

Starting pitching:

Cain 3
Bumgarner 2
Vogelsong 2
Lincecum 2
Zito 2

I'll be generous and give Zito a "2" based on his 2012 performance. And Timmy should be a "3" but likewise earned a lower mark in 2012. I honestly don't think he'll be a superstar ever again. Somehow I'm not a believer in Madison Bumgarner, at least to the extent that I'm happy to call him a good pitcher but not ready to call him a star. So overall the Giants' staff has a lot of depth but maybe not as much star power as locals might believe. I wouldn't even call them the best rotation in the NL West depending on the health of Zack Greinke's elbow.

Anderson 2
Parker 2
Milone 2
Griffin 2
Colon 1

I'm being really harsh here. Parker's on his way to being a 3, Anderson would absolutely be a 3 save for caution about his return from TJ. But I'll rate them as they are now, not how I think they'll be, and today they're better-than-average pitchers. With significantly more upside than the Giants have. 3 years from now Vogelsong and Zito will be out of baseball, and Lincecum hasn't erased any doubts about his future. On the other hand, it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that Anderson, Parker, and (pick one) Milone, Straily, or Griffin could be all-star caliber pitchers.

A much more IMPORTANT point to make: The entire A's pitching staff costs less than what Lincecum is set to make this season. And while the A's have quality depth like Straily waiting for an opening in the rotation, the Giants have no major-league talent at AAA and no high-profile talent in any of their lower levels. This is the best that the Giant rotation is going to be for the next several years.

So: Edge Giants, by 2 points. But that edge runs out soon, maybe even this season.

Relief Pitching:

Romo 2
Affeldt 2
Casilla 1
Lopez 1
Mijares 1
Kontos 1

The Giants have a fairly deep bullpen, but there's not much in the way of difference-makers. I'll be generous and give Affeldt a 2, even though he hasn't touched 90 on his fastball during the Obama administration. He's been effective, but diminishing stuff is diminishing stuff. Romo is a very good reliever, though I don't know that he can physically hold up as a closer. He's got several risks associated with him: there's the ever-present risk of injury, of course, but in his case the larger risk is dealing with chronic knee pain affecting his stuff over the course of the season. He's not the hardest thrower to begin with, so losing 2-3 MPH on his fastball because of weak legs could really impact his ability to get outs. The rest of the bullpen are either situational lefties or just average pitchers.


Balfour 2
Cook 2
Doolittle 2
Blevins 2
Resop 1
Neshek 1

The A's are a) younger, b) throw harder, c) have no history of injury problems, d) cheaper. There's no question that this is a better bullpen now and will be a better bullpen later. Not to mention the fact that there are at least 3 pitchers on this team capable of closing (Balfour,Cook, Doolittle). Jerry Blevins could be called upon to do the same, by the way, and has quietly become one of the steadiest relievers in the league over the past several seasons..

Edge: A's, by 4 points



Buster Posey 3

MVP. What else can I say? Well---how about this? The Giants will have a lot of pressure to move Posey to LF, 1B or a less demanding position to keep his bat in the lineup. His stats at C make him an MVP; his stats as a corner OF barely make him an All-Star.


John Jaso 2

Derek Norris 1

The A's will have a nice array of options this season at C. They're not as good as the Giants, but they're good.

EDGE: Giants, by 1 point.

First Base:

Brandon Belt: 1
Platoon: None

I think he's a nice player, albeit with upside, and already a plus defender. But he's probably not going to be a net asset offensively for a few years. League-average performance at 1B is a high standard, and unless he improves his power hitting significantly this year, he's going to be one of the worst offensive players at the position in baseball. Also, there's no platoon here; the Giants will use Posey at first periodically to give him a rest from catching. Posey's at-bats won't meaningfully upgrade the production they're going to get from the position.

Brandon Moss: 1
Nate Freiman: n/a Platoon score: 1

The platoon opportunities are interesting. First off, Moss now gets more than his share of ABs as he probably won't be in a strictly righty-lefty platoon. He'll get all the AB against RH pitching and probably hits LH relievers as well. He's likely to hit for a lower average than last year but will offer similar power with more opportunity and at-bats.

If the A's want to go with a strictly righty-lefty system then Freiman makes the club. Since he's new I can't say much about his game, except to say that he's a low-BA, high-power potential kind of player that murders lefties. But since he's much less experienced than Moss, I can't see the A's pulling Moss for Freiman against LH relievers as they did last season. He'll get situational starts against tougher lefty starters only.

I give each team ONE point, as 1B won't be a strength for either team. EVEN.

Second Base

Scutaro 2
Platoon: none

He's a legit player, Marco Scutaro, and won as many games for the A's as he did for the Giants last season. He'll add a lot to the Giants offensively, where 2B was basically a black hole all year long last season. No question he's an asset. And while he's not likely to hit a lot of HR, he's a doubles machine and that style of hitting plays perfectly in SF.

Sizemore 1
Sogard 1
Platoon: 1

The A's have the same black hole at 2nd as the Giants did last year. In this case they'll have something of a platoon, but no matter who plays they'll be hitting at the bottom of the lineup. It won't add any net value to the lineup. I have some hope that the situation resolves itself with either Weeks or Lowrie playing here. If Weeks wins back the job mid-season it will have meant that he finally broke out of his mysterious season-long funk--Jemile Weeks playing as the 2011 version would be an ASSET. On the other hand, if Lowrie takes the job it would mean that a) Nakajima found his footing and b) that Donaldson is hitting. I don't have a lot of hope at the position if Sizemore and/or Sogard are getting heavy-duty PT by midseason

Edge: Giants, by 1 point. Probably should be more.



Crawford 1
Platoon: none

Crawford offers very little offensive value, but his defensive value is enough to earn him a point. The Giants will bat him in the 8 spot no matter what lineup they use, and none of the backup infielders add enough offensive value to make a platoon workable.


Lowrie 2
Nakajima 1
Platoon 2

Lowrie is a hitter. Nakajima COULD BE a hitter, depending on whether he can adapt to the American League. Either way, the A's will have a good offensive player at SS this season. Nakajima is apparently a smoother infielder than Lowrie, but Lowrie's got a better arm than Nakajima and isn't a stiff defensively either. They've upgraded significantly from last season.

Edge: A's by a point.

Third Base


Sandoval 3
Platoon: none

Tipping point: I have no idea what Pablo Sandoval is going to be at the end of this season. At the end of the year he could be an MVP candidate, or he could fall into his same old bad habits and be an albatross to this lineup. The Giants get limited production out of their corners and Sandoval helps offset that by providing premium offense at 3rd. The Giants' offense works through Sandoval, but they can't feel comfortable because of who he is.

Regardless, the Giants once again have no other options there so what we see from Panda is what we get. Right now, coming off of his WS performance he's a 3. We'll see what everyone thinks of him in 2014.


Donaldson 1
Lowrie 2
Platoon 1

Lowrie really only plays third if Donaldson can't--because of injury or because of a lack of talent. But whatever the reason, the A's are going to give Donaldson a lot of chances to lose this job. I'm not optimistic.

If Lowrie plays then the A's probably have a hole elsewhere in their infield. Lowrie's the only real player in this infield; Nakajima, Sizemore, Donaldson, Sogard, etc. could just as easily be starting in Sacramento in May as they could in Oakland. So WHERE Lowrie ends up playing could have as much of an impact on the A's season as HOW he plays.

Edge: Giants, by 2 points


Blanco 1
Pagan 2
Pence 2
Torres 1

This is where the KNBR Kool-Aid gets most of the Giants' fan base. The Giant OF is basically a collection of 4th-OF types with Hunter Pence. I am going to be VERY generous and give Angel Pagan a 2 based on what he did last season--but he's never been a real difference maker. And you don't get to point to 2012 stats to support Pagan and ignore them in your defense of Hunter Pence. I'm a fan, he's been a very good player for a long time, but the Giants absolutely won in 2012 DESPITE Pence, not because of him. He was brutal last season. And there's no guarantee that after playing his whole career in hitters' parks that he'll resume his previous career path in SF; he's likely to look a lot like Aaron Rowand in a couple of years. For now, the lineup is devoid of impact hitters but is very good defensively. That pretty much equals the scores I gave them.

Cespedes 3
Reddick 2
Crisp 2
Chris Young 2

It bothers me that people don't realize what a talent Chris Young is; he was the April MVP in 2012 before a shoulder injury (suffered diving for a ball) ruined his season. And he's the WORST player in the A's OF setup.
Yoenes Cespedes is an All-Star--and if the A's win, he will have a lot of MVP votes this season. He's got the defensive capability to play CF as well.
Coco Crisp still has plus range in the OF and his legs are still able to carry him; if the A's can limit him to 115 games or so he'll be able to use those legs at a high level all season.
I'm a bigger Josh Reddick fan than most--but even if you believe that he's due to regress from his 2012 numbers you're still looking at a significantly better player than, say, Hunter Pence. And there's every reason to believe that he can improve upon his BA from last year, which dropped during his mid-summer slump.

Edge: A's by 3

I show the A's as a slightly better team than the Giants, mostly on the strength of the 'pen and the OF--which should be pretty clear to anyone. Other than that, there's not much that separates the two teams.

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