With A's owner Lew Wolfe on record as saying he believes the 2011 A's team is better than the 2006 team which won the American League West, I decided to take a look at both teams and see how they compare against each other.
With not a single at-bat this season, not even a Cactus League game yet this spring, it is hard to truly compare the current roster with the 93-win team from 2006.
Just for the sake of comparison, we'll use the 2011 Bill James Projections from fangraphs.com to see how the two rosters stack up.
What do you think? Will the 2011 Oakland A's fare better than the most successful A's team since our 1989 World Series Championship team? I definitely look forward to your feedback and input.
This will be part 1 of 3 with a rotation analysis and bullpen analysis following up over the weekend and into next week.
While I love what Suzuki brings to the team in additional power over Kendall, and Suzuki may be the second best backstop in the league behind Joe Mauer; Kendal edges him in games played (slightly), hits, runs, batting average and on-base-percentage.
I'm still taking Kurt Suzuki over Jason Kendall however. Suzuki leads the A's young rotation, and while Kendall was more than capable at calling games while he was with the A's, it is hard to argue with the ERA differential (0.25) when Suzuki catches the A's staff compared with a backup catcher.
Give the edge to Suzuki for his game-calling and power edge in a lineup that needs power.
|Jason Kendall (2006)||143||163||1||76||50||.295||.367||.342|
|Kurt Suzuki (2011) - projection||140||139||13||65||73||.266||.329||.398|
The obvious stats that jump out at you here are the differences in home runs, runs and RBI. Swisher clearly has the advantage here and was also a more versatile player as he could play in the outfield as well.
Barton is an elite defensive first baseman, and I personally think the Bill James projections for his 2011 season are a little off here.
Still, while I personally think Barton is headed for a breakout season in 2011, I have to give this battle to the 2006 team and Nick Swisher.
|Nick Swisher (2006)||157||141||35||106||95||.254||.372||.493|
|Daric Barton (2011) - Projection||154||142||12||83||66||.262||.375||.407|
Okay, this seems like a silly comparison. Just for the sake of consistency though, I will give you the 2006 stats and the 2011 projections.
2006 was not Ellis' best season though, so I give the edge to 2011 Mark Ellis in hoping that 2010 was a down year which he will rebound from (with regards to his power numbers, his batting average at .291 was a huge plus for the 2010 team).
|Mark Ellis (2006)||124||110||11||64||52||.249||.319||.385|
|Mark Ellis (2011) - Projection||130||122||9||57||53||.263||.331||.379|
Chavez was beginning his decline in 2006. It is the last season he was able to play more than 90 games, and his forearm injuries hurt his production. He still managed to win his sixth Gold Glove and batted in 22 home runs.
Kouzmanoff is coming off a season in which the A's tried to replace him with any opportunity that presented itself. Kouzmanoff says he is happy to still be an Oakland Athletic and wants to become a power hitting third baseman. If he accomplishes his quest, then I will happily reverse this pick and take Kouzmanoff based on the privilege of hindsight.
For now though, 2006 Eric Chavez wins this battle.
|Eric Chavez (2006)||137||117||22||74||72||.241||.351||.435|
|Kevin Kouzmanoff (2011) - Projections||139||137||18||57||77||.264||.312||.434|
Crosby is a prime example of disappointment in Oakland, whether strictly by bad luck or deserved is not an argument I wish to delve into.
Based on his low batting average and inability to stay on the field, Pennington wins this battle.
Pennington's overall production will be less than what a healthy Crosby was capable of, but as previously mentioned, Crosby was never able to live up to his capabilities.
|Bobby Crosby (2006)||96||82||9||42||40||.229||.298||.338|
|Cliff Pennington (2011) - Projections||150||124||5||67||44||.248||.329||.349|
While Jay Payton was a nice addition to the A's team, and his .296 average was definitely an asset to the 2006 run, he doesn't quite compare to a full season of Josh Willingham in 2011.
Willingham is being counted on to remain healthy and play to the averages on the back of his baseball card. If he is able to do that, he easily wins this battle.
|Jay Payton (2006)||142||165||10||78||59||.296||.325||.418|
|Josh Willingham (2011) - Projections||136||123||22||71||72||.259||.369||.465|
Kotsay, even with his back troubles in 2006, makes this an interesting contest. Kotsay was a consistent hitter who provided excellent defense in center field.
Crisp would run away with this competition if it weren't for his own struggles to stay on the field, and it is a little disappointing to see James project Crisp to only play in 106 games in 2011.
For the sake of this comparison, we will assume that Coco will prove Bill James wrong and put together a healthy season. In that event, his numbers will only rise from the below projection, and he will have the edge over Kotsay.
|Mark Kotsay (2006)||129||138||7||57||59||.275||.332||.386|
|Coco Crisp (2011) - Projections||106||102||7||58||40||.273||.339||.399|
Bradley spent a good portion of the 2006 season on the disabled list, but when he did play he produced for the A's. Leaving his unique "personality traits" out of the equation, a full season of Milton in the outfield would have been a deadly lineup combination with Frank Thomas and Nick Swisher in 2006. As was, it was already a very good combination.
DeJesus is the better defender, and better overall hitter, but the comparisons show them to be a lot closer in some areas than I expected.
Milton Bradley wins this battle on the premise that if he put together a full season, his power and production numbers would be drastically higher than DeJesus'.
|Milton Bradley (2006)||96||97||14||53||52||.276||.370||.447|
|David DeJesus (2011) - Projections||157||175||11||86||68||.289||.360||.417|
No player had a bigger impact on the A's 2006 season than the Big Hurt. Thomas not only led the team in home runs and RBI, but he also provided a positive influence and protection for younger sluggers Nick Swisher and Milton Bradley. Swisher had his best career season with Thomas protecting him in the lineup.
Matsui offers more flexibility than Thomas in the field and should hit for a similar average, but his power and production numbers will be no match for what Frank Thomas provided in 2006.
While I like what Matsui brings to the table in 2011, Big Hurt wins this competition.
|Frank Thomas (2006)||137||126||39||77||114||.270||.381||.545|
|Hideki Matsui (2011) - Projections||146||137||21||69||85||.268||.355||.447|
The A's 2011 lineup is more balanced and provides more depth than the 2006 team.
Based on position-by-position comparisons and keeping in mind this is solely based off the Bill James projections, the 2011 Oakland A's have the advantage 5-4 over the 2006 team.
Over the weekend, I'll put together the side-by-side comparisons of the pitching rotation and bullpen to see how those stack up against the 2006 team as well.
How do you think the 2011 A's lineup compares to the 2006 team and other great A's playoff teams?