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SS - Not Just Driving The A's Crazy

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Nothing makes me appreciate Bobby Crosby any less than watching him swing at the same slider he’s been overswinging to try to hit since 2003 – the ball may as well be a football and the pitcher may as well be Lucy Van Pelt. At the same time, though, nothing makes me appreciate Crosby any more than a glance through the cavalcade of would-be SS out there. Believe me I know, because I comb the reports on minor league shortstops, furiously, every time Crosby takes a swing. You sure don’t find a lot of projected Cal Ripken Jrs., A-Rods, Jeters, and Omar Vizquels. Here’s what you see:

When you come across what looks like a really solid prospect – Jed Lowrie (Red Sox), Carlos Triunfel (Mariners), Mike Moustakas (Royals), Josh Rodriguez (Indians) – just as you’re getting excited, you get to the end of the scouting report: “…will probably end up at third base due to his lack of range.” “…will probably end up at second base due to his weak arm.” “…will probably end up in LF due to his third nipple.” In other words: “Right player, wrong position.”

Or you’ll find a slick fielding SS with all the defensive tools but a questionable bat – like Ivan DeJesus (Dodgers), or Elvis Andrus (Rangers), or Hector Gomez (Rockies) – and you’ll realize that this is precisely what (a healthy) Crosby already offers. Sure, it’s more aggravating to see someone with the tools to hit well hit .230 instead than it is to watch a scrappy, gritty, overachiever who should be hitting .190 courageously and heroically find a way to hit .230, but…It’s 23 hits in 100 tries no matter how you slice it.

Jose Reyes and Troy Tulowitski standout as exceptions in a pool that has produced few great major league shortstops, and just as few great shortstop prospects, since we were spoiled by the embarrassment of riches that cascaded down on us a decade ago. There’s a lot of Carlos Guillen and a lot of Julio Lugo, but a guy who can play defense like a SS – not like a guy you need to move away from SS – and can be an offensive plus, not a liability? Just not a lot already out there, and perhaps even less on the horizon.