The Oakland Athletics have played 11 games so far in the 2015 MLB season, and for a team as new as this one it seems like a good time for a quick progress report. On Sunday, we looked at some larger trends on the team, and on Thursday Nico targeted three A's players for deeper looks: closer Tyler Clippard, starting pitcher Kendall Graveman, and rookie hitter Mark Canha. Later, Jeremy took a snapshot of the whole division. Now it's time for the rest of the roster.
We already looked at the pitchers. Here's a quick word on each of the 13 position players on the current 25-man roster.
Stephen Vogt -- If you didn't believe already, then you should now. He announced himself with a homer on Opening Night, he's been hitting a bunch of line drives just like last year, and he punctuated his hot start with his 3-for-4, two-homer performance against Kansas City on Friday. He's locked in right now, and it's worth noting that he posted a .931 OPS in his first 44 games last season -- while his 1.156 OPS will come down, his early success doesn't have to be a complete mirage.
Josh Phegley -- He's only played three games, but he's 4-for-9 and he's only struck out once. We'll talk more about him when he's played more; the A's haven't seen a lot of lefties and there has been no reason to get Vogt out of the lineup against righties.
Billy Butler -- If you were worried about Butler's off-year in 2014, then you can set that apprehension aside for the time being. Oakland's new DH has set a franchise record with his 11-game hitting streak (and counting) to start his A's career. He also hit a mammoth homer that completely left the stadium in Houston, so there's still some power there. He hits the ball hard every time he comes up, and he hits it to all fields. The fact that he hits a lot of hard grounders and is also particularly slow of foot means that he's susceptible to double plays, and he's hit into three already, but if he keeps stinging the ball consistently then he'll produce enough to make up for those extra outs.
Ike Davis -- Forget his bat for a moment; Ike is a smooth operator on defense. He's mobile, he's got good hands, and he can make the throw to second. With Lawrie and Semien on the left side of the infield, there could be some work to do corralling throws at first base this year, and Davis is well-suited to the task. On offense, I've noticed a strange phenomenon. I'm not super impressed when I watch him, but somehow he's hitting .353/.436/.559, with power (5 extra-base hits) and plate discipline (5 BB, 6 Ks). He's only had two 0-fers in 10 games, and he's even come through in a couple of clutch situations (including once against a lefty). Ike has been fantastic all-around so far, and it's hard not to like him.
Ben Zobrist -- He's already started at three positions (2B, LF, RF), and he's only struck out twice in 43 plate appearances. He has four multi-hit games, he homered in the Opening Night victory, and he's hit a slew of doubles (five, to be exact). He's been exactly the kind of quiet but excellent producer that he was advertised as.
Eric Sogard -- The emergence of Mark Canha has kept Sogard out of the order in recent days by pushing Zobrist from left field back to second base. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because Sogard shouldn't even be starting every day even against righties, but he continues to show that he belongs in the Majors and is a perfectly capable part-time player. His defense at second is still excellent, his plate discipline is strong, and he even notched a clutch game-tying single against Fernando Rodney to give him an early highlight to hang his hat on. During the spring I wanted Tyler Ladendorf to get this spot, and I still want him to get some playing time in Oakland this season, but I'm happy Sogard is here -- especially if/when Canha settles into more of a "vs. LHP" platoon role and space opens up for Zobrist in left field against right-handers.
Marcus Semien -- He's been about what we expected so far. The bat has been above-average, with a .293/.341/.439 line; the defense has been suspect, with three errors and a couple more misplays that went unrecognized. He appears to be capable of making all the plays he needs to be able to make at short, which is an important first step, but he'll need to clean up the mistakes if he wants to reach even an average level there. Either way, though, it looks like he'll hit enough that Oakland's shortstop will at least be productive on one side of the ball -- an improvement from last year.
Brett Lawrie -- It's tough to understand Lawrie until you really see him play everyday. He's like Dr. Lawrie & Mr. Brett; Dr. Lawrie drives the ball and makes sparkling plays at the hot corner, and Mr. Brett flails at breaking balls and tries a little too hard, perhaps letting his intensity get the best of him. We got a peek into the side of him that will rile up opposing teams and fans, with his seemingly unnecessarily aggressive slide into Alcides Escobar on Friday, but for the most part his energy is infectious and exciting and seems to be a force for good. He hustled his way into a run against Houston by stealing second ahead of a single, and his successful squeeze bunt against the Royals was an excellent execution of fundamental baseball. He could look great or terrible on any given day, but it's worth noting that he has only three 0-fers in 11 games.
Josh Reddick -- He's basically having his spring training right now, so I don't want to draw any big conclusions about him yet. I'd rather have some patience as he settles in. But he's still made some good (and frequent) contact as well as a couple of sparking catches in right (despite his particularly bad dropped-ball error in his first game back, against Seattle). Here's a highlight from Wednesday showing the good ol' Reddick back again.
Perfect score for Josh Reddick in the 3rd. pic.twitter.com/XMN9mtDXgP— Athletics Nation (@athleticsnation) April 16, 2015
Sam Fuld -- Last year, Fuld registered as a 2-3 win player with a strong glove and a barely passable bat. With an early schedule loaded with right-handed pitchers, Fuld has been getting the starts in center with Gentry riding the pine. It's also helped that Fuld has been hitting like crazy -- he has five multi-hit games already (half of his starts), and in 43 plate appearances he's got seven extra-base hits and a .947 OPS while striking out only four times. And of course, on defense ...
•_•) <) )╯SUPER / \ \(•_•) ( (> SAM / \ (•_•) <) )> FULD / \ pic.twitter.com/pcMmrz36Ob— Athletics Nation (@athleticsnation) April 14, 2015
Mark Canha -- Nico did a perfect job summing up Canha so far, and you should read what he wrote because I don't have anything to add. I'm still really excited about Canha, but I agree that he'll probably wind up best utilized in a platoon role facing predominantly lefties.
Craig Gentry -- Simply put, Gentry has looked brutal at the plate so far. He's 0-for-14, and it hasn't really been a matter of bad luck. On the bright side, most of those at-bats came against righties, and we know that he is best cast against southpaws. He already made an error in the field, but there's no reason why he can't still be counted on to perform in his role as the starter against lefties and an occasional late-inning replacement (defensive or pinch-hitter/runner). Just as soon as the A's see some left-handed opponents, that is.
Cody Ross -- To be honest, I didn't want Cody Ross. I didn't see any reason to be excited about him and I feared he would take at-bats from Canha, who I'd been getting myself excited about for months. But when I actually looked at Ross' numbers, I realized what Billy Beane saw in him. The outfielder dealt with some injuries last year and had a poor season, but he was a 2-win player in each of '12 and '13 and in each of those campaigns his OPS against lefties was over 1.000. The A's needed another right-handed bat, and even at age 34 Ross should be a serviceable one for as long as needed -- he might be around for a month or he might be around all year. He's 34 years old and his power hasn't shown up since 2012, but he's absolutely worth a look for now as a platoon man and pinch-hitter.