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Oakland A’s on the MLB leaderboard

Which A’s were at the top (or bottom) of the leaderboard last season

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels
Marcus Semien, doing what he does best.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

It was a down year for the A’s, but it’s important to celebrate the wins individual members of the team accomplished, no matter how small. Also, the losses, as long as I can squeeze a poor joke out of them.

For offensive statistics, I included only qualified players, excluding ones involving Billy Butler cause Billy Butler ain’t qualified for shit. For pitchers, I set the minimum requirement at 100 innings pitched since the A’s had exactly one qualified pitcher by normal standards (Kendall Graveman).

Offensive edition

Marcus Semien, 12th in games played with 159

This is what we call managing expectations. Click on this post expecting to hear good, normal, league leading stats? Nah. Marcus Semien physically stood between the lines a lot last year, and dammit, that’s cause for celebration.

Khris Davis, tied third in home runs with 42

Imagine how many he would have had if he didn’t forget out to hit for two and a half weeks! This is a legitimate accomplishment to celebrate, especially considering that Davis played half his games in the concrete home run suppressor known as the Coliseum.

Khris Davis, tied third in Isolate Slugging at .277

Not exactly surprising but still fun.

Billy Butler, eighth worst in BsR (Base running runs above average) at -5.7

lol. This is particularly remarkable because A) Butler played on the short side of a platoon for a team that wasn’t exactly batting around the order with any regularity and B) he didn’t get on base at a particularly high rate. The dude was efficient at costing the A’s on the basepaths.

Stephen Vogt, second lowest ground ball rate at 30.3%

Catchers take enough of a beating as is, so good work by Stephen Vogt to avoid the automatic running groundballs require. Also, groundballs are boring.

Yonder Alonso, tied 8th lowest HR/FB rate at 5.1%

If Yonder Alonso had Andrelton Simmons’ defensive ability, you’d be excused for periodically thinking to yourself "huh, wish Alonso could get one out of here every now and then".

Khris Davis, 2nd in HR/FB rate at 26.6%

When Davis got under a ball, he basically got it out of the yard a quarter of the time. That’s incredible, and the Yin to Alonso’s lack of bang.

Pitching edition

Kendall Graveman, 9th in GB% at 52.1%

The A’s groundballer got groundballs, something encouraging to see out of a guy who just doesn’t miss bats. Many of those found their way past the A’s slow footed infield, but Graveman’s ability to keep the ball down bodes well for his future, especially if the A’s ever put out a solid defensive team.

Sonny Gray, 7th lowest swinging percentage at pitches outside the zone (O-swing %)

Before we get too worked up, remember that a lot of this statistic is about a pitcher’s control. Gray was outside the zone far more than he’s ever been in his career, giving the statistic a higher denominator and therefore looking worse for Gray. It’s not all stuff related. But it is, somewhat at least, stuff related, and it’s an indication of sorts that Gray’s stuff wasn’t right last year.

Sean Manaea, 4th highest swing percentage at balls in the zone (Z-swing %)

Early in Manaea’s rookie campaign, the lefty was chased early from starts after hitters routinely jumped on his in zone offerings. As he progressed over the course of the year, he stopped spending so much time in the zone, and that benefited him tremendously. Manae’s ability to further develop his secondary pitches is ultimately huge to his overall success.

Team edition

Tied 4th, highest fastball percentage thrown at 60.6%

If it seemed like the A’s were throwing fastballs too frequently last year, here’s your evidence. In and of itself, the 60.6% number doesn’t say a whole lot - the A’s found themselves in blowouts frequently, something that lends itself to throwing more heaters. A more interesting statistic might be percentage of pitches in 0-2 counts. Sadly, I don’t have that data, so you’re welcome for me putting the idea in your head then not following through.

Anyway, let’s peek at the top teams by percentage of fastballs thrown:

  1. Mets - historically hard throwing team, plus Bartolo Colon. Makes sense.
  2. Pirates - terrible
  3. Orioles - terrible
  4. Brewers - sometimes I forget they exist

And then there’s the A’s. Maybe time to stop throwing so many darn fastballs.

Defense, worst in baseball by every available advanced metric

I’ll spare you the gory details of the A’s awful defensive season as your eyeballs have probably suffered enough abuse due to the A’s inability to pick it. It’s bad, though, and if you swapped the A’s fielding with that of the Cubs, you honestly might have a decent team.