There is still plenty of time for things to go absolutely haywire, but for the first time at this point in the season since 2014, the A’s are interesting. More than that, they’re likable. Part of that comes from being underdogs, until a team proves to be decent, there’s little reason to dislike them. The team is devoid of the Billy Butlers and the Danny Valencias right now.
Having a favorite player is one of the best parts of sports. Baseball is unique in its reliance on more than just stars, as role players play a huge part in a team’s success and find their way into many fans’ hearts. The A’s have some stars and they have their role guys too, and with each player carrying his respective load to this point, it’s hard not enjoy every player on the roster.
So let’s talk about it. Who’s your favorite at this point in the season?
Jonathan Lucroy - the grizzled vet who is too mature for that hitting home run nonsense. A lot of the value Lucroy can and possibly is adding is intangible, and an older guy is often one of the more enjoyable aspects of a young roster, especially when he catches a no-hitter from a young pitcher.
Matt Olson - there’s something endearing about a gentle giant with a soothing smile who can also probably lift a house. Olson hasn’t quite been the star he was last season, but he’s still delightful to watch, putting up fine numbers, and it’s reassuring to know he’s there in the event of a basebrawl.
Jed Lowrie - any man who can improve his professional performance to star levels just by sleeping is an inspiration to us all. Another veteran who gives the A’s a steadying presence.
Marcus Semien - my personal favorite, Semien worked his tail off to go from a terrible defender to a probably average-ish defender. It’s rare to be able to watch a transformation unfold so explicitly, but we were able to do so with a local product, an obviously nice guy, and one of the few bright spots throughout the A’s rough three seasons. There’s not much to cherish from the past three years but if the A’s are in fact to compete in the near future, it’ll be nice to have a guy on the roster who stuck it out through the tough times too.
Matt Chapman – a picture is worth a thousand words so a gif is worth roughly a million. Enjoy these gifs of Matt Chapman being better at defense than you are at anything and remember the A’s explicitly said they want him around for the long haul. We’re still early in the Matt Chapman tenure but he’s off to as promising a start as any player in recent memory and he’s been likable thus far too with his fiery personality.
Stephen Piscotty – local kid with a sad but inspiring story. Can’t imagine not liking and rooting for him, and him being a pretty good player is just the cherry on top.
Khris Davis – I maintain Khrush is the most Oakland player to ever Oakland. He’s hit more dingers the past two seasons than anyone in the game! Yet he’s still unassuming, quirky but absolutely beloved, and ridiculous amounts of fun. We should probably ready ourselves for the chance that arbitration pushes him out of Oakland sooner than later, but for now enjoy every Khris Davis play being peak baseball theater.
Mark Canha, the mask – let’s be honest, we enjoy finding assets in hidden places. It’s the Oakland way and while no one would ever turn down a conventionally raised star, Mark Canha the centerfielder is a much better story. Canha’s best traits are probably his versatility, Twitter blocking ability, and ability to go with the flow and he probably doesn’t get enough credit for how aesthetically pleasing his game truly his. His swing is hard yet crisp, his centerfield game unrefined yet under control, both much like his All-Star level sideburns.
Sean Manaea – I’m convinced if you wanted to steal Sean Manaea’s wallet, you could just ask him for and it and he’d give it to you so long as you use the magic p word. I’ve never met the dude and I’m anti-judging books by their covers, but c’mon. There’s no way this isn’t the nicest man on planet earth.
Oh and he just threw one of the most impressive no hitters in MLB history, no biggie.
Kendall Graveman – Graveman’s smile is overshadowed by Manaea, but he’s another unassuming, good seeming guy. I think most A’s fans still enjoy and root for Graveman in spite of the fact he was acquired in that trade, giving him the impossible task of salvaging a terrible deal. Especially hard to do from AAA - come back soon Kendall.
Ryan Dull – completely impossible to not love this guy. His biggest hurdle to climbing his way up this list is staying healthy and climbing his way up the bullpen depth chart.
There are other fun players too, again reinforcing just how enjoyable this team is at this venture. Youth and upside and early success are a helluva drug.
We’ll check back in on this in a few months when not every single hitter is hitting and not ever pitcher is getting outs and when the A’s youth isn’t looking quite so enticing. For now, the A’s are likable and exciting almost across the board, and that’s something to cherish. Who you got?