Ryan Sweeney is many things. My wife's favorite player. My 10 year old daughter's favorite player (this side of Kurt Suzuki and just in front of Daric Barton). An outstanding Right Fielder, defensively speaking. A key to the A's 2010 season.
But all of these things are short term. What is Ryan Sweeney in the long term? Will he ever hit for power? Does he need to in order to be a key part of future teams? Will the next A's Pop Culture phenomena be a singing trio of Sweeney, Suzuki and Barton instead of the Moneyball movie?
A tough set of questions to answer, of course. Really impossible without any sort of psychic ability, a crystal ball or some elevated level of midichlorians. This is exactly why I contacted Esmeralda, the Fortune Teller. I could have tried Zoltar, but last time he really screwed the poochini.
Esmeralda said "Look to the past to know what the future holds." Well, she actually didn't say anything, but the card that popped out of her little glass enclosure had that phrase written on it.
My first reaction was to half yell "bogus." But, as I reconsidered it became clear that there was a deeper meaning in what this fake woman in a glass box had told me. Just what was that meaning? I began scouring the past and came up with a few scenarios.
My first inclination was to look up players in Athletics history with similar minor league numbers. My particular bent, on this particular investigation, was looking for someone with similar weakish power numbers in the minors. Of course, whatever similar weakish power number guy I found would have had to develop into a solid power threat in the big leagues. I mean, Ryan Sweeney plays Right Field for crying out loud, and Right Fielders hit with some pop for Pete's sake. The ultimate power number is Home Runs... Who did I find?
Before Jason Giambi took that stuff he was wrong for taking, he topped out at 12 Home Runs in the minor leagues. This was in Modesto, before they were called the Nuts. That is a "High A" team. Sweeney topped out in the minors at 13 bombs, and in Triple A no less.
Two things led me to believe this was not where Esmeralda intended for me to look. First, Sweeney probably couldn't get away with using whatever the stuff was that Jason Giambi used to jump up to a 40 homer kind of guy. Second, Giambi actually was sort of slugger even though he didn't have a single season with more minor league taters than Sweeney. I mean, if you want to believe in a 70 point higher Slugging Percentage. So what did I look for next?
Maybe Esmeralda was pointing me towards some other defensively outstanding Right Fielder that just got on base a bunch without a lot of power in their first two big league seasons. Canseco or Jackson...nope... Those dudes hit for power.
I came up with Mike Davis. Ryan Sweeney did not hit as many HRs in the minors as Mike Davis did, but that was mainly because Davis played 151 more games in the minors. They had similar home runs per minor league games played numbers (they were both around .07). They both had low home run totals for a corner outfielder in their first two big league seasons.
I was pretty excited about this ridiculous parallel, this pattern that couldn't be there and means nothing. In his third season, Davis hit 24 bombs. So let's book Sweeney for 20, eh? That was until I thought about Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
The game where, with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Davis worked a walk against the Eck. We all know what happened next. Esmeralda couldn't be pointing me, as an A's fan, to this guy. So what the hell was she talking about?
Then I got this tweet from @OaklandAs:
Love A's commercials? Happy Valentines day from the A's! http://bit.ly/a3gUkc
Ryan Sweeney was wearing number 21. Is it possible that Esmeralda had involved Twitter in her psychic web of intrigue? Was she referring to Mark Kotsay? He of the 4.8 WAR in 2004? He did play some Right Field too, didn't he?
I decided to think outside of the glass fortune teller box at this point. Esmeralda had been helpful, but I felt like I belonged in a Dan Brown novel, searching for parallels that don't exist.
Maybe Sweeney isn't always gonna be a Right Fielder? After all, he made some spectacular plays in Center Field last season. If all goes well with Daric Barton this season, maybe Chris Carter is playing Right Field? If Carter is playing Right, and Taylor is playing Left (or vice versa) that leaves only one spot for 'ol Ryan Sweeney: Center Field. Or maybe he will all of the sudden hit 25 bombs. Or maybe he will just continue to sparkle defensively. Perhaps he will bring back some good prospects? Maybe Stolen B@eS will be a pop trio that rivals N'Sync and the like?
So what do you all think? What does your inner Esmeralda say when she talks about Ryan Sweeney?
Ryan Sweeney will...
This poll is closed
be in CF, flanked by Taylor and Carter for years to come
hit with enough power to justify a corner outfield spot for years to come
not hit for power, but will provide enough value on defense to stay in Right Field
bring back some good prospects