When your team bats .215 over its first 10 games, there's a tendency to worry. And by worry I mean panic. And by panic I mean completely panic. A 10-game sample can reveal trends to follow and they can be utter noise. The A's probably will not finish the season with a team OBP of .262, just as Marcus Semien is unlikely to launch 65 HRs this season. What will the full season actually bring?
Don't worry. Yes, Davis is over-swinging and under-connecting and even in his wildest alcoholic nightmares the A's LFer probably didn't envision striking out in 14 of his first 30 at bats in the American League. I am completely unconcerned about Davis and think he will have a very good season at the plate.
What is going wrong right now and what needs to improve? First off, Davis is seeing most of these pitchers for the first time. Secondly, he is probably trying too hard. The result isn't as bad as it looks. Several times, he has just missed khrushing a pitch that he has fouled off and you don't have to squint much to see where three of his swings so far could easily have produced two prodigious HRs and a line drive hit.
Add two HRs and a single to the mix and Davis would be batting .267, on pace to HR 32 times, and we would be accepting the high strikeout rate as a worthy tradeoff. And that's what I think we'll see going forward, because when Davis hits the ball he hits it really hard, and once he settles down he will be much more disciplined with his pitch selection and his swing.
Nicodamus says: Give Davis April to acclimate and you will be pleased with the hitter you see the rest of the way.
I have good news and bad news about Yonder Alonso. The bad news is that he truly is Daric Barton II. The good news is that he's one of the better versions. Barton had, essentially, three careers. One was as a 5 WAR, .393 OBP-ing stud and one was as a .220 hitter who disappeared from view. In between, however, Barton was a solid-but-not-spectacular player who combined a strong OBP (thanks in large part to some of the best pitch recognition I've ever seen), and low SLG, with excellent 1B defense.
Alonso is not going to provide much power, as his drive to left-center field yesterday demonstrated -- even when he hits the ball hard and far, he doesn't hit it all that far. But once he gets back to his tried and true approach of strong plate discipline, solid pitch recognition, and a line drive approach to all fields, the bat is going to come around at least enough to provide a solid OBP and his defense has been nothing short of a revelation.
Nicodamus says: Don't look for a lot of HRs or even doubles, but Alonso should be good for a .340 OBP by the time it's all said and done, and his defense is going to save 30 hits and 300 errors. Slugging under .400, that's not going to be an All-Star but it should still be a very valuable player.
You might want to worry a bit about Jed, at least in the field. Feet of lead and a glove of steel doth not a slick fielder make. Having watched Lowrie for 10 games at 2B, I'm not convinced that he can be average there after all. In a perfect world, Lowrie would be the A's DH providing "professional at bats" without clanking grounders left and right -- literally.
Chris Coghlan has looked surprisingly good at 2B and 3B so far (including spring training when I had a chance to see him), and I'm not sure that Lowrie can get through a full season as the A's every day 2Bman. His salvation could be Joey Wendle's 3 for 25 start -- unless Wendle picks it up at the plate he isn't getting called up any time soon -- but at least against RHPs Coghlan looms as an alternative.
Nicodamus says: If the A's find themselves on the cusp on contention, they won't want to keep trotting Lowrie out there every day at 2B.
Whose early performances do you think are harbingers of actual doom? And whose are you most sanguine about saying, "Eh, first 10 games. He'll be fine."?