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Reasons I’m Rooting for Joey Wendle

Wendle seems to be the kind of player who will contribute to a team no matter which way.

Oakland Athletics Photo Day Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Fare The Well, Coco

Now comes the post-Coco Crisp era for the Oakland A’s. We all knew it was coming eventually and some, like me, even hoped it would. Crisp joining a contender, the team with which he began his career more than a decade ago, salvages an otherwise sad occasion.

Crisp was as much a part of Oakland A’s history as Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, or any of the big three. You are free to disagree, but that is how this writer and fan feels two days after Crisp’s final game in green and gold.

It’s time to turn the page, which is strangely something the organization has been slow to do in 2016. To take Crisp’s spot on the 25-man roster the A’s called up triple-A infielder Joey Wendle, the surprise return in the Brandon Moss trade, which now seems like ancient history.

Just like most team’s back-end top-30 prospects, the deck is stacked against Wendle. Expectations surrounding his call-up aren’t high and no one is anticipating he’ll become the next in a long line of Athletics greats.

Despite low expectations I will be rooting hard for Joey Wendle.

Youth Injection

Another losing season season and another year that proved the veterans on this team can’t cut it has left the A’s organization feeling stale, no matter how many dingers Khris Davis hits.

Chad Pinder advanced to Oakland from triple-A but hasn’t been given an opportunity to play much. Ryon Healy, however, has been in the lineup most days and Wendle will make his major league debut today.

My early reaction is to hope for a Wendle/Pinder platoon at second base with perhaps Pinder getting some reps at third base and/or shortstop the rest of the way. There is nothing to gain from Max Muncy, Billy Butler, or Yonder Alonso receiving large amounts of playing time. The final month of the season should be dedicated to seeing what Wendle, Pinder, Healy, Arismendy Alcantara, Bruce Maxwell, Brett Eibner, and hopefully Matt Olson and Renato Nunez can do.

Pinder’s presence on the roster coupled with Wendle’s call-up give me reason to think we’ll see more of Oakland’s future in the lineup as the 2016 mercifully ends.

On the Field

Overall Wendle has been slightly better than league average with his bat. His walk and strikeout numbers aren’t great, but he runs and hits for just enough power to be a 103 wRC+ player.

Since June however, Wendle has been excellent. In general he has walked more, struck out less, hit for more power, and been more productive. In April through May he struck out more than a quarter of the time with just a 73 wRC+. From June on he has struck out less than 20% of the time with a 124 wRC+.

His hit tool is his best tool, according to He doesn’t have any other standout attributes, but seems like the kind of player who will do enough in all aspects of the game to be able to compete.

Off the Field

One of the big stories for the A’s the past two seasons has been about team chemistry, or lack thereof. There’s no reason to think Wendle will step right in and be a team leader. Although I have a feeling that will come in time.

In the two years Wendle has been in the A’s organization I’ve become a big fan, largely in part to things like this:

So much of baseball can be quantified or qualified with stats, scouting grades, and evaluations. Those attributes only make up part of the baseball player equation. It’s easy to poke fun at players, managers, or organizations that make too much of “grit” or players who play the game the right way. There has to be room for using both methods when evaluating players and how they can contribute.

Wendle seems to be the kind of player who will contribute to a team no matter which way.