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Eyeball Scouts Ruminates On Players From “The Team That Suddenly Can’t Lose”

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics
“Am I baaaaaack?”
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Who is for real, who is not? What should we make of this hot streak, cold streak? Today, the Eyeball Scout weighs in with a few observations on key players in the A’s cog…

Seth Brown

The next Brandon Moss? This was not only asked on AN yesterday, but even referenced on the A’s radio broadcast where Ray Fosse appeared to have taken some time out of his Dibs eating routine to check out our humble blog.

Brown came in like a lion late in 2019, finsihing at .293/.361/.453 in 26 games, buoyed by going 7 for 10 over two games at the end of August. What I saw in 2019 was that Brown crushed fastballs, then struggled towards the end as pitchers started throwing more changeups and Brown struggled to recognize that pitch.

Fast forward to 2021 and it seems to me as if Brown is still hunting fastballs, but it’s important to note that you can be successful primarily thriving on one pitch. Mark Canha has had almost all his success on fastballs this season, but what separates him from the pack is his uncanny ability to foul off tough breaking balls or changeups In the strike zone as well as his discerning eye to lay off good chase pitches.

in contrast, I worry that Brown is a hitter who can hit the ball hard, hit the ball a long way, and get hot, but that ultimately he has yet to prove he can handle the full repertoire. Until he mashes a few breaking balls, and shows better recognition of the changeup I am still not ready to put him in the company of someone as accomplished as Brandon Moss.

That being said, I have been pleasantly surprised by Brown’s defense, and even if he doesn’t prove to be a great hitter he is most certainly a useful one. Solid player at league minimum, But in my view still very much a prospect.

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman’s batting line sits at .169/.256/.366 and “fugly” Probably best describes his 32.9% K-rate. Certainly there is a ton of swing-and-miss in Chapman’s game and it’s important to remember that high K-rates were a big part of his minor league profile.

With a K-rate in the low 20s (23.7% in 2018 , 21.9% in 2019), Chapman is an elite hitter. But right now he is like Matt Olson was last season,swinging through a ton of fastballs in the zone. I do see him fouling back some very hittable pitches, and when he starts mashing those, and he will, his numbers will improve greatly.

But ultimately, I think it’s fair to say that at this stage of his career Chapman is not a great hitter, but rather he is a very dangerous hitter. There has always been a lot of swing-and-miss in his game, and while he is certainly not as bad as this year’s numbers he is arguably not as good as his 2018-19 numbers, which may wind up representing the peak of his career.

Matt Olson

No Matt Olson Is not going to hit .328 this season. But his BABIP is no fluke. First of all, it is only .311, which is within the normal range for a hitter to sustain. And as you may have noticed, Olson hits the ball so bloody hard. Realistically, the defense would have to put all four infielders on the right side in order to neutralize the contact Olson makes.

Olson’s batting average is currently being fueled by an unsustainable 15.7% K-rate, but even as his BABIP falls to, say, .300, and his K rate rises over 20%, this has a chance to be a memorable offensive season for Oly.

Sergio Romo

I may have whiffed on this one, because unfortunately hitters haven’t. Even as he started to lose velocity, Sergio Romo continued to be effective overall and to dominate right handed batters. is Romo just off to a dreadful start, or is he actually “done”?

The numbers speak for themselves as to how poorly Romo has started the season: a 12.79 ERA, 5.68 K/9IP, 1.42 HR/9IP. It’s also a 7 appearance, 6.1 IP sample, Romo was dfficult to hit as recently as last season (10.35 K/9IP).

From what I have seen, though, it may be time to put a fork in the man best known for throwing a “no red dot slider”. I just have not seen the signature bite in his slider, and of course his fastball is coming in at 84 MPH. Veterans get a lot more rope when they start slow, and I would not expect the A’s to give up on Romo for at least another six weeks, if not the All-Star break. But he simply needs to show more life in his pitches in order to get big league hitters out, and if the slider continues to loop out over the plate while the fastball is measured not by a radar gun but rather by a calendar, the end may be near for the slider artist.

There are some observations to spark conversation, as well as an opportunity to weigh in on any other players your eyes have judged in a scouty kind of way. Chris Bassitt against the much-utilized pitcher known as TBA at 4:05pm...