By Jason Wojciechowski on May 17, 2015 at 9:59 AM
Ike Davis has hit the disabled list with a strained quad. I haven't seen anything yet on how long to expect him to be out. On the roster page I've figured basically the 15-day minimum. That's probably hopeful, but at this point in the season, with the team having the worst record in all of baseball (if only this were exaggeration), hope is all we have.
It is worth noting, by the way, that the peculiar distribution of runs the A's have had marks them as one of the unluckiest (in a sense) teams in memory: they are underperforming their Pythagenpat record by nearly six games and their higher-order Baseball Prospectus advanced records by nearly eight games. A team finishing the year eight games under expectation would be considered very unlucky. Managing eight games in just 38 is downright incredible.
Obviously it's not all luck -- as has been detailed repeatedly, the A's bullpen has been terrible. The latest look by Alex Hall at Athletics Nation is worth your time. The stunning stat is as follows:
By my count, the A's pen has now entered 18 different games that could be considered "vulnerable" -- that is, either the game was tied at the time, or the A's led to a small enough degree that a successful outing would earn the pitcher(s) a hold and/or a save. The A's have won five of those games
That's a good recipe for losing close games, and losing close games is a good recipe for underperforming your context-neutral stats.
Losing Davis isn't going to help things. His stats so far are a dead ringer for his promising rookie season, way back in 2010, when he had a .299 TAv, good for 3.8 WARP in the nearly full season he managed that year. He busted up his ankle the next year and it's been downhill ever since, but the talent should have been there to be an above-average first baseman. Even with the demanding hitting standards of the position, the A's platooning plus Davis' return to form made it seem like they may have found yet another diamond in the rough. Or, well, sapphire or something. He's not Paul Goldschmidt or anything. But for less than $4 million in salary plus the international free agent slot money he cost, he absolutely looks like a valuable piece of the A's puzzle. Hopefully this quad strain will keep him out for the minimum, as I said, and he can get right back to the solid hitting and solid defense he'd shown for the first six weeks of the year.
In the meantime, we'll presumably get more Max Muncy. He hasn't played the last three games because the A's have faced a parade of lefty starters, but for the next couple of weeks, I'd hope he'll get the full-time RHP assignment, with Mark Canha, whose trend line looks exactly like you'd expect any hot-starting rookie Rule 5 pick slugger's trend line to look, taking the platoon-vs-LHP role he should have had since Day 1. Muncy only has 21 plate appearances on the year, so I'm not even going to tell you about his stats so far, but he probably doesn't have the power to make first base a good home for him full-time (or even 80 percent-time) in the majors. Still, sometimes a player with patience but limited power can make it work -- who can forget Daric Barton's .393 OBP, .405 SLG, 3.5 WARP season in 2010? Make enough good contact on pitches in the zone to whack some doubles and never ever ever swing at a pitch outside the zone and things can go your way for a while, especially if your power isn't Sogardian but merely weak-for-a-first baseman.
Craig Gentry is also back on the roster to take Davis' spot, but I'm not sure he has a place to play. He could theoretically get some starts in center field against lefties, but there's no real reason to shove Billy Burns aside, and even with the platoon advantage, we're not going to see Josh Reddick sitting against anyone. I'd figure him for a backup to the backup (Sam Fuld) at this point, particularly seeing as how he didn't do anything more with his 40 plate appearances in Nashville than he did with his 40 in Oakland, and I'd expect him to be optioned back out as soon as Ben Zobrist is ready. (Or Davis, if he beats Zobrist back, but my understanding is that Zobrist's return is near enough to imminent to make me search my thesaurus for synonyms that don't quite mean "imminent" but almost mean it. Fast-approaching, let's say. Impending. Brewing. Menacing.)