A's Power Ranking, Five Six

By Jason Wojciechowski on May 5, 2013 at 11:50 PM

Off a 4–2 week that looks quite good considering the team lost not one, not two, but three men to the rigors of a 19-inning baseball deathmatch, here is your updated A's Power Ranking. (The rules: this is not a ranking of how these players did this week, but all season; and you have to be on the 25-man roster at this writing to be ranked. The main statistic I rely on is Baseball Prospectus's VORP, though it's also not a strict ranking by that stat. Arrows after the names show how the rank compares to last time.)

  1. Jed Lowrie ↔: the slugging percentage has slipped below .500, but he's still got an OBP well over .400 and he's still playing the middle infield. He's getting close to a third of the way to 100 games. (He's never before played 100 games.)
  2. Josh Donaldson ↑ biggest rise: hit the go-ahead homer in the top of eighth on Sunday, and he's hitting .302/.383/.491 while playing at the very least an adequate and quite possibly very good third base. This isn't an MVP pace, but it's a team MVP pace.
  3. Yoenis Cespedes new entry: a fifth homer in 32 team games is a 25-homer pace. The batting average (and thus OBP) are still lagging, but the slugging is up to .507, and he's looked better in center field in his few games out there since Coco Crisp and Chris Young went down than he did in 2012.
  4. Seth Smith ↔: he's cooled off significantly, but .366/.455 OBP/SLG will still work, even from a DH or bad left-fielder. Surprise stat: he's second on the team in strikeouts.
  5. Brandon Moss ↔: and he's first. Still, he's got 45 points of OBP and 13 points of SLG on the AL-average first baseman so far (an average that includes Moss himself, so he's actually beating a more legitimate average by a bit more).
  6. Derek Norris ↓: .246/.405/.316 is a weird (but valuable!) batting line. I'm starting to be a bit more skeptical of his defense, which doesn't mean it's bad, but does perhaps mean that he really will need to hit to be better than average overall.
  7. Tommy Milone ↔: the only starter I have any confidence in right now. He's actually struck out 36 batters in 39 innings, which is awesome for a guy throwing 87 mph. Check this: six walks, six homers allowed.
  8. Dan Straily new entry: a nice start against the Yankees boosts his stock a bit, though Jerry Blevins didn't do him any favors by letting in the two inherited runners he left. Still, the pitches were moving well and mostly located well, especially down in the zone, and overall he's got 21 whiffs to just four walks in 16 2/3 innings. Having a sixth starter this good is one of those "nice problems."
  9. Adam Rosales new entry: he's not hitting great, but for a shortstop, .278/.333/.417 is well above average. Visually, I'd rate his defense at short against Lowrie's as a toss-up, but Bob Melvin knows at least 276 times as much as I do about baseball, so I'll take his word for his preferred defensive alignment.
  10. Bartolo Colon ↑: I have no real reason for not feeling confidence in Colon, and his 3.62 ERA so far is perfectly fine for a back-end starter, but there's something about his defensive-independent numbers that holds me back. Remember Milone's weird walk and homer stats? Here's Colon: one walk, four homers.
  11. John Jaso ↑: the hitting has picked up, as he's up to what I think we'd have expected, or some facsimile of it: .274/.351/.357. A touch more power would be nice, and this isn't adequate if Jaso's going to DH a lot, but if he's a catcher, that's a nice line. He seems to get along in the A's dugout, too.
  12. AJ Griffin ↓: Contributing to a shutout in Yankee Stadium, even of a Yankee team whose good hitters are basically just Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner (sorta), is nice. His ERA has tucked under four, and I'm believing in him a little more each time out.
  13. Sean Doolittle ↔: He's thrown 89 percent fastballs this year, per Brooks Baseball, and yet he's given up five hits in 49 batters faced. I know he throws 94 and there's a lot of deception, but still. The only reason Doolittle is this low is because he is, in the end, a reliever, and relievers can only impact a team so much. He's thrown half the innings that Brett Anderson has, for instance.
  14. Jerry Blevins ↓: a poor outing on Sunday drops his stock, but he's still got a 19:1 K:BB ratio in 18 innings pitched, so he's just chugging right along being Jerry Blevins. Combined with the fact that he's hilarious, I'm convinced Blevins is the most underrated player in baseball.
  15. Luke Montz new entry: he's slugging .727! Okay, it's 11 at-bats, but three extra-base hits in 11 trips is a nice thing.
  16. Eric Sogard ↓ biggest fall: he's down to a .300 OBP and .288 SLG, so I'm curious to see whether he lasts much longer. Would the team call up Jemile Weeks in a platoon role? It might be unusual giving that Weeks is a switch-hitter, but the point is not only to maximize Weeks, but to maximize the position(s) as a whole, and Rosales vs. a lefty might well be a better bet.
  17. Ryan Cook ↓: six walks in 15 innings isn't great, but he's whiffed 17 and given up just nine hits, so he's still Ryan Cook and I'm still probably underrating him. I'm not fair, but neither is life.
  18. Nate Freiman ↑: .243/.326/.378 at first base should probably be ranked lower, but I'm going to leave him here as a testament to the value of relief pitching and to illustrate how bad Jarrod Parker and Josh Reddick have been.
  19. Grant Balfour ↓: Sunday was a little scary what with putting the tying run on second and then throwing some fastballs very near the heart of the plate, but he got away with it. Six walks and two homers in 13 innings aren't good ratios.
  20. Pat Neshek ↓: here: eight walks and 16 hits in 12 1/3 innings. He's no Chad Bradford. Luckily Bob Melvin seems to know it.
  21. Chris Resop ↓: the most anonymous A's reliever. Can you name anything about his pitching? Besides that it hasn't been good in his 13 1/3 innings?
  22. Evan Scribner new entry: the most mop-up A's reliever.
  23. Michael Taylor ↔: he doesn't get clean shots, really, but he also doesn't seize the unclean shots he gets. He's 0–9 so far this year and I don't remember a hard-hit ball.
  24. Jarrod Parker ↔: he threw just his second quality start in six tries on the 30th, but even then it wasn't good: four runs allowed (three earned), four strikeouts, three walks. He did record 17 ground balls to just three in the air, per ESPN, which is astounding and fantastic, but the last time he had a good game, he followed up with a stinker against Baltimore, so he's not out of the woods yet.
  25. Josh Reddick ↓: apparently his late double on Sunday was his first hit at Yankee stadium in 34 at-bats. That's incredible, but it also feels like he's 1-for-34 in 2013 overall. (Actually 13-for-88, albeit with 14 walks.)