We just looked at two players who wore No. 10 for the 2014 Oakland Athletics, and neither of them could really hit. That trend won't get any better as we move on to No. 12, Andy Parrino.
Name: Andy Parrino, aka ParriNOOOOO!
Position: SS, 2B, LF (10 innings), 3B (2 innings)
Stats: .152/.216/.283, 51 PAs, 1 HR, 3 2B, plus-4 DRS
WAR: 0.4 bWAR, 0.0 fWAR
How he got here: Re-acquired from Rangers on April 21*
2014 Salary: $500,000
2015 Status: Pre-arbitration, under team control
2015 Salary: Estimated $500,000
* He did the mini-Rosales tour. Acquired from Padres prior to 2013, claimed off waivers by Rangers in March, claimed back by A's 49 days later.
Andy Parrino is exactly what you would expect out of a utility man. On defense, he can play multiple positions and he plays most of them well. On offense, he hits like one of the batboys. To put his hitting into perspective, six different NL starting pitchers had better OPS marks than Parrino last year (min. 50 PAs) and a seventh one was within three points; Madison Bumgarner slugged .470, which was nearly Parrino's entire OPS.
Aww, c'mon guy. Cheer up, I'm just messing around. After all, you hit a home run this year! Never mind that Bumgarner hit four. You're still a better hitter than most pitchers.
In Parrino's defense, we're judging him on occasional spot starts here and there. He's hit well in three of his last four seasons at Triple-A, and there's a decent chance he'd at least break the Mendoza Line if he was an everyday starter in the Majors. However, he never got that chance with the A's in 2014.
Parrino served three different stints in Oakland this year. The first one came in June, when Alberto Callaspo went on the paternity list; Parrino started two games, went 1-for-6 with an RBI double, and played three positions. The second came in July, when Callaspo pulled his hamstring and went on the DL; Parrino started two games, one at second and one in left field, and went 2-for-7 with a double and a walk. Then in August, when Nick Punto and Jed Lowrie had overlapping DL stints, Parrino filled in as a capable defender at shortstop and made 10 starts there (plus another at second base); unfortunately, he only went 4-for-34 (.118) with a homer and a walk in that semi-regular role.
Don't underestimate the value of having a player in the organization who can step in and provide replacement-level value in emergency situations, especially at shortstop. For all the jokes about his hitting, Parrino quietly provided a stabilizing influence in his limited playing time. Every time he was here, it meant that something else had gone wrong, but at least his presence meant that balls hit to the left side of the infield would still be converted into outs -- not a guarantee with, say, Eric Sogard manning the unfamiliar post. Considering that two of Oakland's last three seasons have gone down to the 162nd game, even the positive contributions of a backup like Parrino are important and valuable. Every little bit counted in 2014.
2014 season grade, relative to expectations: C ... I expected replacement-level value at multiple positions, and I got it. He could have earned a B by hitting .200 to go with his strong defense, and he could have earned an A by forcing his way into a regular starting role (as opposed to being strictly an injury replacement).
2014 season grade, overall: D+ ... He's the definition of a replacement-level player, and that earns you the "D for Diploma" passing grade.
You won't believe how many highlights I'm going to show you of Parrino. For starters, he's such a strong defender that he can make Derek Norris look good at throwing out base stealers.
He can start the 4-6-3.
He can start the 6-4-3.
He can turn it.
Or, he can just do it himself.
He has range.
And here he is saving a game for Eric O'Flaherty, who had just let the score get within one by allowing a homer. If any of these plays seem kind of routine to you, try to imagine Alberto Callaspo making them and then remember that they weren't that far apart as hitters.
Parrino hit a homer this year! Off of Jered Weaver, no less!
And one more solid hit.
Andy Parrino isn't a perfect player, but he was good enough when he filled in this year and he did it at essentially the minimum possible salary. He's out of options, though, so if he doesn't make the team out of spring training then he might not be in the picture next year. Given that he's a switch-hitter, he's not far off from being Nick Punto at a fraction of the cost.