Game 157, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · September 25, 2017 at 5:47 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

King Felix vs. Daniel Gossett, 7:05pm

Happy Felix Day.

After the wave of protests occurring during the anthem at NFL contests, the scene shifts to baseball, where A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell is perhaps the first MLB player to lodge a similar protest. Maxwell, whose father was black and who grew up in Alabama, talked about the motivation for taking a knee with Yahoo’s Jeff Passan in a must-read piece today. The A’s don’t draw many fans, and there’s more NFL tonight, so it’s getting kind of lost, but Maxwell’s been remarkably candid and thoughtful about his reasons for it and touching base with everyone from teammates to ownership. He’s now also receiving tons of ugly abuse and threats and social media, because that’s essentially who we are now.

It snuck up on me, but the A’s second half surge has pushed their offense above the M’s and above the league average for the year. Down the stretch, the A’s – THE A’S – have been one of baseball’s best offenses, hitting the 3rd most HRs and nearly getting to a 10% walk rate. Their wRC+ is tied with the Cubs for best in MLB in the second half. It looks like I’m going to need to eat some more crow for, er, crowing about how the M’s were in a much better position for the medium term than their poor brethren to the south. The A’s had a bunch of corner IF prospects who hit but no one believed in, and then some middle IF prospects who people liked but who put up so-so results. Their pitchers put up great numbers in the minors, but turned to pumpkins in the majors, leading to the club cycling through them at a rapid rate. Let’s remember, it was their young staff that was supposed to carry them this year, and their young staff collapsed. 2016’s Dillon Overton or Daniel Mengden haven’t played much of a role, with Overton jettisoned to Seattle in the offseason. This year was supposed to be about Jharel Cotton, Andrew Triggs and Kendall Graveman, but injuries have prevented the latter two from performing for much of the year, while Cotton’s been worse than his most pessimistic projection.

And it hasn’t mattered, damn it. The A’s called up Matts Chapman and Olson, traded for Boog Powell, and got contributions from Ryon Healy and Chad Pinder and now they’re more than a competent hitting group. Chapman’s been brilliant with the glove, and Olson’s power has definitely translated. A year ago, it looked like the A’s mass of mid-level prospects may not pan out, and that crown jewel Franklin Barreto might not hit. This year, well, uh…Barreto hasn’t hit, but the A’s seem to have a decent group to build around.

In the first half of the year, the A’s seemed stuck while the M’s – irrespective of their 2017 record – had found three competent OFs. A few months later, and that’s been flipped; the A’s have a new cost-controlled IF while the M’s have Mitch Haniger and a shopping list.

Of course, as rapidly as that picture changed, it could change again. The Reds, as Jeff noted at Fangraphs, lead the league (by a mile) in the number of starts pitched by rookies. So far so good for a rebuilding club. The problem is that they led last year too. And the year before that. That starts to look less like a rebuild and more like meaningless churn. The M’s didn’t match the Reds because their depth guys had some MLB experience: Heston, Bergman, etc. had big league experience, while Andrew Moore came up later. It’s critical that the M’s figure out who’s part of the long term plan and who’s depth.

1: Gamel, LF
2: Haniger, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Alonso, 1B
7: Zunino, C
8: Motter, SS
9: Hanneman
SP: El Rey


One Response to “Game 157, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. LongDistance on September 26th, 2017 11:08 am

    It’s lonely in the middle. Except in the AL West.

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