Oakland A's: Biggest Winners, Losers of the First Half of the Season
With the Midsummer Classic looming, it's time to chalk up the Oakland Athletics' winners and losers at the halfway mark of 2013.
Since the A's are already fighting the Texas Rangers for tops in the AL West, unlike last year at this point when Oakland trailed Texas by 13 games, it's easy to list the A's' winners. I'll limit those to the top two guys, even though players like Jed Lowrie and Bartolo Colon easily could be included as well.
As for the bottom-feeders, both mentioned in the following slides have had little impact on Oakland's performance—which is exactly why they're on the list.
Don't worry, Yoenis Cespedes will not be called a loser, despite battling injury and hitting well below his average from last year.
So here goes, the best two and worst two A's from a pretty successful first half of the season.
Winner: Josh Donaldson
Early last season, Josh Donaldson was one of two failed third basemen the Oakland A's suffered through before picking up Brandon Inge. Fast-forward to now, and the 27-year-old is the team's leading candidate for a spot at the All-Star game.
Donaldson's breakout did indeed start in his most recent call-up from Triple A Sacramento—hitting .290 from August 14 till the end of the season—but 2013 has been even kinder to the third baseman.
Not only is he now pacing at .312 with 12 homers, Donaldson is No. 9 in Wins Above Replacement in the American League this year with a 3.4 mark. That's right on par with last season's WAR king Mike Trout's 3.5.
He's been the subject of an ESPN piece and is in the mix to be the first A's position player at the Midsummer Classic since 2003.
Suffice it to say, he's a winner.
Loser: Brett Anderson
Where art thou, Brett Anderson?
However, that doesn't make up for Anderson's abysmal 6.21 ERA in his mere 29 innings pitched.
Fortunately, Oakland has been buoyed by the continued quality tossing of Bartolo Colon. Even so, Anderson was expected to make an impact on another AL West title run. Instead he's going the way of Dallas Braden.
Somehow the A's tend to find more hurlers in their back pockets each season, especially lately. But fans must still wonder what gives when it comes to Anderson.
Four losses in five starts screams loser.
Winner: Coco Crisp
Last year's Coco Crisp trade rumors disappeared once Oakland made its historic run for the AL West title, and the outfielder is still showing why this season.
Even if you put the beloved Bernie Lean aside, Crisp is certainly a winner for the A's. By extension, anyone who was at O.co Coliseum to receive a Lean bobblehead (shown at left) is also a winner.
First of all, Coco is nearing his home run total from 2012 despite being at only half of his 120 games from that season. His nine so far put him on pace to break his personal-best 16 from 2005, a year in which he hit .300.
Even when you go to the new-age Wins Above Replacement, he's sixth-best among outfielders in the American League with a 2.4.
Defensively, Crisp has been clean. He remains a leader in the dugout.
There's no way to deny the wonderful winning of Coco.
Loser: Hiro Nakajima
Hiro Nakajima started his A's career by calling GM Billy Beane sexy, but the shortstop's work this season has been less than orgasmic.
Yes, Nakajima hasn't been given any chances at the major league level since the likes of Jed Lowrie and Eric Sogard are filling the Oakland's needs in the middle infield. Still, the Japanese transplant has hit just .273 at Triple-A Sacramento—which doesn't give Beane too many reasons to promote him down I-80.
The guy certainly has time to adjust to America and make an impact for the A's. However, the hope when he was signed this offseason was that he'd do so much sooner than midseason of 2013. After all, Nakajima is already 30 years old.
That makes him a loser-with-promise thus far. Oakland fans dream that'll change once Sogard and Adam Rosales start slumping.
Who Knows: Dan Straily
Up, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down again.
I hoped recounting the many times Dan Straily has moved between the Oakland A's and Triple-A Sacramento wouldn't be such a long sentence.
Straily had a great five-game stretch that included three wins and just eight runs allowed in 32.2 innings of work.
Then he returned to bad form by giving up that many in only eight innings in his next two starts.
His four pitches and blazing fastball make Straily a seriously promising hurler. If he could just figure out how to stay steady, the 24-year-old will have a sweet future with the A's.
Until then, it's really hard to tell if he's a winner or loser in 2013.