OaklandClubhouse’s Oakland A’s Player of the Year
Fan Choice and Staff Choice: Yoenis Cespedes
Runner-Up: Josh Reddick
Excitement was high when the A’s announced the signing of free agent Yoenis Cespedes just before the start of spring training. Although the Cuban defector had yet to play an inning of baseball on US soil, he was considered one of the most talented players on the free agent market and the most significant free agent signing made by Oakland in years.
Even the most optimistic fans believed there would be some adjustment period for Cespedes, but the outfielder exceeded all expectations. Despite having to play through a myriad of hand and leg injuries, Cespedes posted a .292/.356/.505 line in 129 games. He hit 23 homers, stole 16 bases and proved to be a quick study defensively, improving his glovework at a new position (left field) as the season wore on. The A’s were a much better team when Cespedes was in the line-up. Oakland’s record was 82-46 with Cespedes in the game and 12-22 when he was out.
The runner-up for both the fan and staff vote was another newcomer to the club, right-fielder Josh Reddick. Reddick won the AL’s Gold Glove award for right-field earlier this week and contributed on both sides of the ball throughout the year. Reddick led the team in WAR (4.5) and was an iron-man on a club that struggled with injuries all year, appearing in a team-high 156 games. Reddick became the first A’s player to hit at least 30 homers since Nick Swisher and Frank Thomas did it in 2006 (Reddick finished with 32). He also led the team in the all-important category of most number of teammates and coaches pied in one season.
OaklandClubhouse’s Oakland A’s Rookie of the Year
Fan Choice: Yoenis Cespedes
Staff Choice and Fan Runner-Up: Jarrod Parker
Cespedes was the runaway choice amongst the fans for A’s Rookie of the Year, and certainly he earned the title for all of the reasons mentioned in the Player of the Year write-up. The staff went a slightly different direction with this award. Having named Cespedes Player of the Year, the OaklandClubhouse staff (by a narrow margin) went with Jarrod Parker.
While Cespedes was a rookie in Major League Baseball, he had been a star in the major leagues for Cuba for several years. Parker, on the other hand, was a more traditional rookie, having only two major league appearances coming into this season. Parker overcame struggles during spring training to accumulate a 3.8 WAR season – best among all A’s pitchers for 2012.
Parker had Tommy John surgery in 2009 and missed all of the 2010 season, but he managed to throw 181.1 innings during the regular season, second-most on the team. He would then add 12.2 more innings in the post-season as the A’s number one starter. During the regular season, Parker went 13-8 with a 3.47 ERA and a 140:63 K:BB ratio. He had the second-lowest homeruns per nine innings rate in the American League and was 10th amongst pitchers in the AL in WAR.
Of course, it would be hard to go wrong with any of the candidates for this award: Cespedes, Parker, AL All-Star Ryan Cook, team innings leader Tom Milone, first-baseman-turned-standout reliever Sean Doolittle, late-season star Josh Donaldson, first-baseman/DH Chris Carter of the 864 OPS and starter 7-1 starter A.J. Griffin.
OaklandClubhouse’s Oakland A’s MiLB Pitcher of the Year
Fan and Staff Choice: Dan Straily
Runner-Up: A.J. Griffin
Right-hander Dan Straily was the runaway winner in both the fan and staff vote. Straily may have been the top pitcher in all of the minor leagues this season. In 152 innings for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento, Straily posted a 2.78 ERA. He led all of the minor leagues in strike-outs with 190 and he walked only 42 for a 4.52 K:BB ratio. Straily also did an excellent job keeping the ball in the park, allowing only nine homeruns.
Straily made his major league debut late in the season and made seven starts for the A’s. Straily posted a 3.89 ERA. He struggled with the longball (11 in 39.2 innings), but he struck-out 32 and helped the A’s overcome a stretch when they were without their three top starters (Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon and Brett Anderson).
Griffin spent less time in the minor leagues than Straily, but he was almost as impressive while he was there. The right-hander posted a 2.82 ERA in 102 innings for Midland and Sacramento. He struck-out 91 and walked only 18. In the big leagues, Griffin posted a 3.06 ERA with a 64:19 K:BB ratio in 82.1 innings.
OaklandClubhouse’s Oakland A’s MiLB Player of the Year
Fan and Staff Choice: Miles Head
Runner-Up: Addison Russell
The vote was closer both in the fan and staff ballots for minor league player of the year. Ultimately, third baseman Miles Head took home the honor in both votes. The right-handed hitter made his A’s organizational debut in 2012. He came over to Oakland in a trade with the Boston Red Sox during the off-season, the same trade that netted the A’s Josh Reddick.
Head began his season with High-A Stockton and he was the California League’s leading hitter before he was promoted to Double-A at the All-Star break. In 67 games for the Ports, Head posted a .382/.433/.715 line. He hit 18 homeruns, drove-in 56 runs and 23 doubles. Head got off to a slow start after his promotion to Midland, but despite having to recover from concussion symptoms after being beaned with a pitch, Head still managed to put together a solid .272/.338/.404 line in 57 games for the Rockhouds. The 21-year-old’s combined minor league line was .333/.391/.577 with 23 homers in 124 games.
Russell was the A’s top pick in the 2012 draft. The 18-year-old signed soon after the draft and appeared in 55 games spread over three levels of play (Rookie, short-season A and Low-A). He starred at every level he played, and he posted a .369/.432/.594 line with seven homers and 16 stolen bases. Russell has continued to impress this fall with his play during the A’s Instructional League camp.