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BBTN Top 500: Athletics Edition

March 28, 2013

ESPN does a cool thing, the top 500 baseball players in the game ranked 1-thru-500 prior to each season (the link brings you to 401-500). Let’s first talk about this idea as a whole, obviously it is subjective to a degree and there’ll be room for disagreement. In MLB baseball there are 30 teams with 25-men on each roster. That means this list represents basically the best two-thirds of MLB players or the top 16 or 17 players on each team. Granted some teams are more talented than others and commensurate with that will have more Top 500 players than others. One can argue the 16th best Astro might not even be as talented as someone who finds themselves playing for the Triple-A affiliate for the Washington Nationals, the Syracuse Chiefs. With that said, the A’s – a division winner last season – have a slight overrepresentation on the list with 18 players. They are:

48. Yoenis Cespedes
100. Jarrod Parker
102. Brett Anderson
119. Josh Reddick
177. Grant Balfour
189. Coco Crisp
233. Ryan Cook
235. Chris Young
251. A.J. Griffin
265. Jed Lowrie
285. Tommy Milone
319. John Jaso
340. Brandon Moss
342. Sean Doolittle
355. Dan Straily
390. Seth Smith
414. Hiroyuki Nakajima
427. Jemile Weeks

While we could go on for ages about the A’s players vis-a-vis other players in baseball, I think it makes more sense (and maybe I am just lazy) to tackle the A’s within a vacuum. Let’s look first at some funny aspects here. First off, currently three of these players either are, or look destined for Sacramento: #355 Straily, #414 Nakajima and #427 Weeks. Of course the A’s aren’t fielding a 15-man 25-man roster so there are so actual real life MLB players who are being omitted. First and foremost: Bartolo Colon.

Where is Colon? I actually went back and searched his name on every page to no avail. I don’t have much faith in Colon but no matter how you cut it he is a better player than some of these entries because if not he wouldn’t be in the A’s rotation would he? I am not a huge Colon fan as any reader of this site will know, and I question his ability to replicate 2012 if he goes PED-free (and also he may face a Biogenesis related 100-game suspension) but he was the A’s third most valuable pitcher in 2012 with 2.4 WAR only Parker and Milone beating him out. How can he not be a top 500 player, or not even a top 18 on the A’s?

I also take exception to Griffin being ahead of Lowrie on this list. I take exception to him being ranked so high period based on a half a season of work sort of coming out of nowhere. While Griffin was no doubt solid and a key component in the A’s division title, would you trade Chris Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi to get Griffin? I don’t know that I would. If Griffin pitched a full season at the level he performed last year he would have roughly (back of the napkin math) 2.8 WAR, barely ahead of the 2.6 WAR Lowrie put up in maybe 60% of a season. While both players have limited track records, Lowrie has more of one than Griffin does and it seem ludicrous to me to have Griffin so high up.

I suppose one can argue the merits of other people’s rankings Coco seems a bit high to me who is perennially down on him, Cook seems artificially high and Jaso and particularly Smith look lower than they need be, overall it doesn’t outside of the two aforementioned problems have any real glaring errors. I think Josh Donaldson deserved a spot on this list, especially ahead of Weeks or Nakajima, and one could make an argument for Jerry Blevins‘ inclusion, but it is a fun sort of thing to read. Remember people, this is why we play the games.

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