Cleat Geeks

SABERmetrics Sunday: Matt Chapman An Early Stand-Out Player In 2018

There has only been two weeks of regular season action, but there are players putting up some notable performances. One of them is the Oakland A’s third baseman Matt Chapman. Chapman (24) has begun what will hopefully will be his first full big league season after playing 84 games in 2017. Being on a bad and frankly uninteresting Athletics team, he did not get much attention. While he only put up a .313 OBP, he hit 14 home runs with 19 defensive runs saved at third and was a 2.7 fWAR player in 2017. Chapman also had a .348 OBP and .937 OPS in 49 AAA games in 2017.

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Up until Saturday, he has been an every day player with the Athletics. Like mentioned earlier, it is a small sample size, but Chapman is showing a lot of promise early. Here are the FanGraph stats in his first 14 games this year.

.424 OBP / .698 Slugging / 1.122 OPS / 5 HR / 10.2% BB / 16.9% K / 217 wRC+ / -0.1 UBR / 3 DRS / 2.1 UZR /1.3 fWAR

The kid has been doing it all. Playing a good third base while slugging the ball all over the park and getting on base at a great rate. Oakland is looking at youth to rebuild their franchise into relevance and Chapman could be a key piece. Will he his some rough patches? Yeah, it is inevitable. However the promise looks good.

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It is hard to see his defense slowing down and he clearly has some pop in his bat. 19 home runs in 98 MLB games along with 80 home runs in the minors. His OBP may drop a bit when pitchers can figure out some weaknesses, he never was a huge OBP guy in the minors (career .327 OBP in minors). Overall the Athletics look like they’ll have a nice power third baseman for the future.

Oakland Released Billy Butler

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle the Athletics have released 1B/DH Billy Butler. The news doesn’t come as any surprise, as Butler has under-performed in both of his years with the A’s and was recently involved in a clubhouse altercation with teammate Danny Valencia in which Butler ended up suffering a concussion.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Butler said he doesn’t believe his altercation with Valencia affected the club’s decision to release him, per Slusser.butlervalencia

The Athletics signed Butler, 30, to a three-year, $30 million contract in November 2014. He put up a pedestrian .713 OPS in 2015 and a .733 OPS this season. In 242 trips to the plate this year, , Butler hit only four home runs and knocked in 31 runs. 60 of the 80 times he reached base, he did it via a single or a walk.

As Butler’s playing time has waned, the Athletics have been using Khris Davis, Stephen Vogt and Bruce Maxwell in the DH spot.

Butler has one year and $10 million remaining on his contract that Athletics will be responsible for covering it.

Stop Crying Coco

Veteran Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp believes that Oakland is artificially holding down his playing time to prevent his option from vesting, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Crisp says that he’s “extremely hurt” by the team’s “shady” handling of the situation. While GM David Forst and manager Bob Melvin have stated that Crisp is sitting against lefties to afford younger players more exposure, he sees more to it — particularly since he is not being used much off the bench. Crisp’s $13MM option vests at 130 games played; entering today’s action, he had appeared in 93 contests, meaning he’d need to take the field for most of the club’s remaining 43 games to reach the threshold.CocoFro

“I’m healthy, I’m playing hard and this has surprised me,” said Crisp, who noted that he has loved playing in Oakland. “This calls their integrity into question, it’s very sad.” The 36-year-old, who owns a .239/.307/.410 slash on the year, indicated that he may not be interested in playing after this season, adding: “The business side sure makes it hard to love the game, and I’ve loved the game since I was six years old.”

Alright, he says he is healthy, and he is playing hard. Notice, he does not say he is playing well, because he is not. His career slash line is .266/.327/.403 the slash line that is mentioned is well below in 2 of those 3. He has also given the 4 teams he has played with a career average of 32 stolen bases per year. He has stolen a total of 28 bases his last 3 years combined which includes 7 so far this year. Now I understand this season is not complete, but he is down 20 RBI’s and 99 total bases from his career averages. Plus his defensive statistics are even worse. His WAR is only 0.4 and his defensive WAR is currently at -1.2. This is even considering he is no longer a center fielder, he has moved to a corner outfield spot. It is not like Oakland has not paid him well, starting in starting in 2013 he was paid $7 million, in 14 $7.5 in both 2015 and 16 he will make $11 Million each year.

But, next year is a vesting option. A vesting option is usually inserted in the contracts of veteran players in the event that the athletes skills diminish as they get older. Crisp’s skills are obviously diminishing. He is still a serviceable player, but the amount of the vesting option is $13 Million dollars. Crisp has never been paid more than the $11 Million he has earned the last 2 seasons. No smart business is going to pay a person, be it an athlete or not, more money when their skill set will be less. If they do, they won’t be in business very long.

A serviceable player deserves a serviceable salary, not an all time high salary. In my opinion, the Oakland Athletics have every right to not play him and therefore not make the conditions of his vesting option. On the other hand, if Crisp was putting up career type numbers, then he would have an argument if the conditions of his contract were not being met.OaklandAthleticsCenter

With the vesting option, Oakland said, if Crisp is still putting up above average numbers at the end of his contract as his age increases, then we will reward him with the highest pay per season he has ever received. If he is not, then we have a clause in the contract to protect our monetary investment and make that vesting option null and void. And just so everyone is aware, there is a $750,000 buyout that Oakland still has to pay Crisp if they do not allow his option to vest.

Coco, stop crying. There is no crying in baseball. Try playing better, that usually works.

Brantley & Lowrie Both Having Season Ending Surgeries

Indians manager Terry Francona says outfielder Michael Brantley will have season-ending surgery on Monday. The specifics of the surgery have yet to be announced, and the timeline of his recovery isn’t yet clear, but Brantley had been dealing with shoulder and biceps issues and already appeared unlikely to return in 2016.CI_092314DC-0339.CR2

Brantley had shoulder surgery last November and began the season on the disabled list, then had persistent problems with the shoulder throughout the season. He was also diagnosed with biceps tendinitis in June, and he had surgery last month to remove scar tissue from his biceps tendon.

Brantley has collected just 43 plate appearances this season, batting a mere .231/.279/.282. That’s a far cry from the numbers he posted in his healthy 2014 and 2015 seasons, when he hit a combined .319/.382/.494 and rated among the American League’s best players.

As Francona explained today (via’s Paul Hoynes on Twitter), the timing of Brantley’s surgery now is geared toward getting him healthy for next season and presumably beyond. Brantley remains under contract with the Indians for 2017, and his contract contains a team option for 2018.

Indian’s fans hope for a speedy recovery, and have to wonder how much more magical this season would have been with a healthy Michael Brantley.JedLowrie

Athletics infielder Jed Lowrie will undergo surgery to remove a bunion and repair a ligament in his left foot. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season as a result of the procedure. The veteran infielder has struggled with the problem for some time, and attempts to battle through it failed. He’ll have the work done now in hopes of having plenty of time to recover in advance of Spring Training next year.

Lowrie, 32, seemed like a viable trade candidate prior to the foot problem and related struggles. He had been hitting at a fairly typical, roughly league-average clip before suffering through a rough month of July. As things stand currently, Lowrie owns a .263/.314/.322 batting line over 369 plate appearances on the year. Acquired over the winter to help anchor the Oakland infield, Lowrie has also posted below-average defensive ratings.

There’s no question that the foot malady has played a role, as reporters have documented how much of an impact it has had. Hopefully for both player and team, he’ll be able to return to full health in advance of the 2017 campaign. Lowrie is set to earn $6.5MM next year and can be controlled for an additional season with a $6MM club option, which comes with a $1MM buyout.

AL West Predictions #5 Oakland Athletics

The “Moneyball” GM Billy Beane, is now the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for Oakland and now David Forst is the new General Manager. Will this still be a “Moneyball” kind of team? The team is a mishmash of players, they have traded some of  their good players like Brett Lawrie. And picked up other teams problems like former Royal Ryan Madson and former Padre Marc Rzepcaynski with his 7.66 E.R.A.Yonder+Alonso

According to the A’s website the infield looks like this so far:

1st Base will be a combo of newly acquired Yonder Alonso but when left handed hitting comes into play then Mark Canha will help cover 1st.

Yonder Alonso came over to the A’s from the San Diego Padres in a trade that also brought over Marc Rzepcaynski for Drew Pomeranz and Jose Torres. Alonso’s 2015 regular season totals .282 average, five home runs, 31 RBIs, 50 runs scored and two stolen bases.

2nd Base looks like Jed Lowrie who brings some consistency to the infield and some switch hitting to the batter’s box.

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Shortstop will be manned by Marcus Semien who is still learning the position but with the help of Ron Washington as the infield coach there is hope for improvement. Semien bring a steady bat to the plate and this will be a counterbalance to the high error totals.

Things to look out for; Sonny Gray will dazzle. Liam Hendriks with his two seam fast ball will sure turn up the heat in the bullpen. Sean Doolittle with bring in some saves. A’s fans welcome back from Houston Jed Lowrie, with some very impressive fielding stats that will help the infield defense.SonnyGray

There are some problems; This team lacks a strong infield, and a consistent left fielder, depth in the starting rotation and has a lack of a bullpen depth as well. There is also an uncertainty as to how the new GM will run the team. This is a difficult and stacked Americian League West Division. Lets not be to negative and say we pick them to finish last,just say this is a rebuilding year for the A’s and they will continue to climb up this list in the coming years.


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