Rosters Expanded and Four Added
It is September 1st and shockingly if the season ended today the A’s would be in the playoffs. Who would have thought that at season’s start? September 1st also marks the day that the rosters can be expanded and the A’s took little time to do so by reinstating A.J. Griffin and Brandon Inge from the disabled list. Griffin who will get the start tonight against the Red Sox, was activated. Thus far this season he has a 3-0 record in his eight starts during which he has posted a stellar 2.42 ERA. While his FIP at 3.66 says he hasn’t been that good, it is still nothing to scoff at as he has put together 7.1 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9. The BABIP doesn’t stay at .226 and the strand rate won’t stay at 86.1% but even if he regressed to a 3.66 ERA pitcher how can anyone complain that from someone who was maybe tenth on the A’s depth chart to start the year?
Inge meanwhile will return and I wonder if he will return to much playing time given the strong play of one Josh Donaldson. Inge went down having put together a cumulative .216/.274/.379 slash line for a .281 wOBA and 76 wRC+ in 329 plate appearances with Detroit and Oakland. He has been worth 1.4 WAR largely on the basis of his strong defense while adding 12 home runs to what was at the time a relatively punchless A’s offense. He has walked just 7.3% of the time while striking out in 27.4% of trips to the plate. That is in stark contrast to Donaldson who was the A’s best offensive player in August posting 1.2 WAR, backed by a .344/.408/.625 slash line with four home runs, a .438 wOBA and 184 wRC+. He walked 8.5% of the time, striking out 16.9% of the time he went to the plate. Though a beneficiary of a .375 BABIP, these numbers are far stronger than Inge’s even with significant regression, it’ll be interesting to see if Donaldson has won himself a spot on this team longer term.
Two more players were added to bring the total to 29 on the club: Collin Cowgill and Brandon Hicks. Cowgill’s inclusion was not surprising in the least as it gives the A’s some speed on the basepaths to run amok with a bit in late inning situations. In 108 plate appearances with Oakland, Cowgill hit .271/.343/.313 with a home run and three stolen bases. With Sacramento this year he has put together a solid campaign hitting .254/.312/.373 in 285 plate appearances with four home runs and eight stolen bases. Hicks meanwhile can help out in the middle infield, and spent 65 plate appearances in Oakland hitting to a measly .183/.246/.417 with three home runs. In Sacramento Hicks has been better hitting .244/.350/.506 with an impressive .369 wOBA and 117 wRC+ including 18 home runs in his 383 plate appearances.
These additions aren’t really huge surprises. I wonder if the A’s go to an expanded rotation as I feel they should given the depth they have an the seeming usefulness in giving these many young starters some extra rest. Cowgill and Hicks should give the A’s some more bench flexibility and I hope to see that Inge does the same because with the stick that Donaldson is swinging he has earned most of the starts at third until he can show otherwise.