Grading Each Oakland A's Player's Performance in the 2013 Divisional Round
The Oakland A's lost Game 5 of the ALDS, and while guys like Yoenis Cespedes and Grant Balfour earned themselves a high grade, too many of the other A's players earned a C or lower.
Of course when that happens, losses happen.
The series overall was quite close. Game 1 featured a tight one, with the Detroit Tigers coming out on top 3-2. The A's answered in Game 2, beating Justin Verlander 1-0. The offense picked up a bit in Game 3, netting Oakland a 6-3 win. But in Game 4, Detroit tied it up by winning 8-6.
Close, until Game 5 of course.
That's when Justin Verlander dominated the A's for the second consecutive ALDS Game 5.
Many of the A's hitters had strong grades until facing Verlander for the second time in the series. Once that happened, it was all downhill. Find out which A's earned "A's" and which failed.
Brett Anderson pitched 0.1 innings. The good news is: He did strike out one of the batters he faced. Other than that, though, he walked one and gave up an earned run, ending the postseason with a 27.00 ERA. You can even throw in a wild pitch too.
That's pretty awful.
You could make an argument for giving Grant Balfour as high as an A+ or as low as a A-. I'll give you both sides.
On the bright side, he picked up a win and a save. Facing 10 batters, he allowed zero hits and struck out three. Maybe even better to some, he provided the biggest source of entertainment of the series, sparking a benches-clearing altercation with his fiery attitude.
However, some may not want to give a guy who only pitched in three innings an A+. And for a reliever who's supposed to be extremely dominant, Balfour did allow one walk (forgivable in this writer's eyes). Likewise, you could make the case that Balfour's antics were unfavorable and possibly the source of the Tigers' rebound.
Balfour pitched in Game 5, and he pitched very well. The three batters he faced—Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera—struck out, popped out and struck out, respectively.
Hence, we'll go in the middle.
This slide can be as short as this: three at-bats, three strikeouts.
That was Daric Barton's production in the ALDS. Barton is typically brought in—or actually kept on the roster, period—only as a late-inning defensive replacement. Starting Barton was an experiment that ended after Game 1.
Game 1: Alberto Callaspo pinch hits and strikes out with no runners on.
Game 2: Callaspo pinch hits and hits a double.
Game 4: Callaspo pinch hits with the bases loaded and two outs. He smokes a hard-hit ball into the gap, but center fielder Austin Jackson makes it to the ball in time to make the out.
In Game 5, manager Bob Melvin gave Callaspo the nod to start. He proceeded to go 0-for-3, but in his defense, so did pretty much everyone else. A 1-for-6 performance is terrible, but it's average compared to what everyone else did.
Yoenis Cespedes is one of two batters that delivered. He finished the series with a .381 average and had one of the three hits against Justin Verlander in Game 5.
La Potencia did a bit of everything.
He scored three times. Of his seven hits, he had one double, one triple and one home run. He also plated four. Most surprisingly, he only struck out four times.
Cespedes gets the minus because he left seven runners on base. That may not be bad in itself, but five of them came in Game 3 alone.
Bartolo Colon gave up three runs in the first inning of Game 1. He proceeded to put up a goose egg in the next five innings.
But he wasn't necessarily dominant.
Colon faced 26 batters, allowing 10 hits and striking out just four. It wasn't a terrible performance; Many of those hits turned out to be runners left on base. But the three runs turned into the difference in the 3-2 loss.
Everything you just read in the Brett Anderson slide prior, duplicate it times two.
Cook pitched in 0.2 innings (lasting one more out than Anderson), giving up two hits and two runs (twice as many as Anderson).
He, like Anderson, struck out one and walked one. And that's the ALDS outing of Ryan Cook.
Coco Crisp might even deserve an A+. Crisp literally did it all. He finished the ALDS with the highest batting average on the team, which was .500 before Game 5. Still, .389 is pretty awesome. He had seven hits, two of which were doubles and one a triple.
Crisp scored four runs and knocked in two. He even stole a base.
The A's leadoff hitter really only has two knocks against him: he left four on base and went 0-for-4 in Game 5. Still, Crisp did more than everyone else.
Expectations for Josh Donaldson should have been higher than anyone else on the team, outside of maybe Yoenis Cespedes. Hence, his .143 batting average goes down as all the more painful.
And it's not just that Donaldson didn't hit, it's that he came up about as empty as possible.
In 21 at-bats, Donaldson struck out eight times. It gets worse. He left nine runners on base. Lots of strikeouts, lots of runners left on; Donaldson did not bring the rain in this series.
Here's what Sean Doolittle did really well: In 3.2 innings pitched combined in Game 1 and Game 3, he allowed zero hits. He walked one, struck out four and earned a hold.
In Game 4, Doolittle ran into trouble.
Doolittle lasted 0.2 innings. He faced six batters, allowed three hits and two runs, one of which was a game-tying, save-blowing home run to Victor Martinez. The outing earned him the loss.
Game 5 didn't do much to better or worsen the grade. He pitched one inning, faced three batters and struck out one.
Overall, he actually pitched well. It's just the one blemish that turned out to be extremely major.
In Game 2, Sonny Gray pitched a gem. Gray went eight innings, allowing zero runs while going toe-to-toe with Justin Verlander. In that game, he struck out nine, walked two and gave up just four hits. Had that been it for Gray, you would see an A+ here. Gray even earned the nod to start a crucial win-or-go-home Game 5.
Unfortunately, he wasn't quite as sharp.
This time around, he lasted five innings, giving up six hits and three earned runs, including one that left the yard. He struck out three but walked four. That performance alone would receive a C- or D+.
Average that out, and you see the aforementioned B. The rookie had a solid overall performance—better than expected.
Jed Lowrie, who I predicted would be the hero of the series, was nearly as bad as Josh Donaldson. He hit a dismal .150. He also left 10 runners on base.
Here's why he gets one tick higher: Lowrie managed to hit a home run and knock in three runs. In a (barely) bright spot, he walked twice in the series. And of the three hits the A's got in Game 5, Lowrie had one of them.
Brandon Moss is yet another Oakland A's player who was expected (at least by me) to do some damage. His power should have been a much-depended-on asset, yet the one home run he hit is outdone by 13 strikeouts.
That home run? It was one of two hits and was a solo shot.
Moss left 10 on base. I'm starting to rethink his grade.
Derek Norris had a whole, whopping one at-bat. In a pinch-hit situation, he struck out.
You can't really punish Norris with an F for one at-bat. He didn't start, and the at-bat came late in Game 3, so Norris has the excuse of being cold. Also, there were no runners on base to move over or bring in.
All of that said, he gets your baseline C.
Who would have guessed Dan Otero would have the most consistently solid performance of the postseason?
Otero faced 21 batters over the course of four games. Four of those batters got a hit off the reliever. He struck out two, walked one and earned one hold in Game 3. You really couldn't ask for more than that.
Jarrod Parker's Game 3 pitching performance can be described simply as "meh."
It's awesome that Parker earned the win, and he only allowed five hits. The downfall of his game is that he only made it five innings and allowed three runs in that span. Walks and strikeouts don't sway the grade one way or the other; he had one of each.
The highs and lows even out. The win bumps it up a bit.
Oddly enough, Josh Reddick didn't do too terribly. If you look at his .235 average, you might want to disagree, but hear me out.
Reddick started Game 1 with an 0-for-4 performance with three strikeouts. He started off in an early hole. In Game 2, he went 1-for-3 with a walk. The next two games, he hit 1-for-4. And when no one else did much of anything against Verlander in Game 5, Reddick got a hit and a walk (.500 on-base percentage).
The spotlight seemed to be all over Reddick during this series.
Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth of Game 4, Reddick came to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. He battled, but on a 3-2 count, he swung at ball four in the dirt and struck out. There's no use debating if it was a terrible swing because, regardless, a strikeout is a strikeout.
The same game, Reddick had a bead on a Victor Martinez hit. As he reached over the home run line to rob a home run, a Tigers fan reached out and interfered. The hit was ruled a home run. The "catch" could have been a game-changer.
Reddick did earn an assist, though, helping nail Victor Martinez at the plate in Game 1.
Below-average hitting and great defense—that's the Reddick MO.
Simply put: Seth Smith did his job.
In Game 2, Smith hit .500 and only left one runner on base. In Game 3, he hit similarly, leaving two on base but knocking two in. Then he got on base twice with a hit and a walk in the fourth game of the series.
That was before Game 5's 0-for-4 performance with two strikeouts and three left on.
So Smith hit in three games. Unfortunately, nothing came of those hits. And when the team really needed hits in Game 5, they didn't come. Still, it's not his fault no one was on when he hit.
If there's an award for worst performance of the ALDS, it goes to Eric Sogard.
Three men went hitless in the ALDS. Derek Norris did it in one at-bat, Daric Barton in three. Sogard went 0-for-9. Worse, Sogard left five batters on base.
In Game 5, manager Bob Melvin sacrificed Sogard's defense in favor of Alberto Callaspo, effectively ending Sogard's postseason.
If you only looked at Dan Straily's 4.50 ERA and three earned runs allowed in six innings pitched, you might be disappointed. The truth of the matter is, though, those three runs are really his only blemish. And they came off one three-run home run.
Besides that, Straily struck out eight batters and walked none. That's pretty solid for Oakland's regular-season No. 5 starter.
I'm being nice with this grade, holding Stephen Vogt's walk-off hit in high regard. Every up had its down, though.
For instance, he grounded out to the pitcher a few times in the first game, then walked off with a hit up the middle in Game 2. He threw out a runner to end an inning from behind the plate but struck out seven times at the plate. He hit .188, but of his three hits, one was a triple, which is actually pretty impressive for Vogt and his speed.
His ups and downs even out to make his ALDS performance quite average.