A couple of days ago it was announced that the A’s have come to an agreement with free agent outfielder Coco Crisp on a one-year contract worth around 4.5 million. The deal is pending an important physical considering Crisp is coming off surgeries to both of his shoulders that caused him to miss the last 100 games of 2009.
The A’s are not the type of team that goes around handing out multi-million dollar contracts like free Chinese food samples at the mall and then decides to not play the guy, so most likely Crisp will see plenty of at-bats as the Athletics’ new leadoff hitter in 2010. Assuming a year of good health from Crisp, let’s see what we can predict his upcoming season will look like.
+------+-----+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+ | Year | Age | AB | R | HR | RBI | SB | AVG | +------+-----+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+ | 2005 | 25 | 594 | 86 | 16 | 69 | 15 | 0.300 | | 2006 | 26 | 413 | 58 | 8 | 36 | 22 | 0.264 | | 2007 | 27 | 526 | 85 | 6 | 60 | 28 | 0.268 | | 2008 | 28 | 361 | 55 | 7 | 41 | 20 | 0.283 | | 2009 | 29 | 180 | 30 | 3 | 14 | 13 | 0.228 | +------+-----+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+
Crisp experienced his breakout season in 2004 as a 24-year-old on the Indians, and followed that campaign up with another gem in 2005 that led to him being the favorite of ESPN analysts everywhere. In those two seasons he displayed a rare three-tool combination of average, power, and speed ability that looked attractive to MLB teams and fantasy owners alike.
Crisp’s prime career years, however, have not smelled as sweet. Ever since his participation in the suspicious Andy Marte trade that sent him to Boston, Crisp has played a full season only once, and has not hit above .285 nor reached double-digit home runs in a season. After an injury-ruined 2009, Crisp hit the free agency market this offseason and surprisingly netted this 4.5 million contract from, of all teams, the Athletics.
Crisp has the potential to be an impact player in 2010, with a .290 average, 10 home run, and 25 steal season not out of the question. RBIs will most likely come sparsely for Crisp, but batting leadoff for any team, even the A’s, will net him decent runs totals in the 80s or perhaps 90s.
That, of course, is assuming good health and is a “best-scenario” prediction. A more reasonable projection would look something like a .270 average, six home runs, and a similar 20 steals. That line does have value in deeper mixed leagues and AL-only leagues, and if the Athletics live up to the credence of their name and send the fleet-footed Crisp stealing often, then he could even become worthy of ownership in shallower mixed leagues because of steals totals alone.
Fallout: A’s outfielders
This signing does impact players beyond just Crisp, as the way playing time is distributed to the rest of the Oakland outfield is altered. The other two outfielders expected to keep their starting roles are fellow speedster Rajai Davis and possible breakout player Ryan Sweeney. This leaves the recently acquired Scott Hairston without a defined role in the A’s offense and reaffirms the organization’s abandonment of Travis Buck. Also, two players who might have reached the majors in 2010, Aaron Cunningham and the even more recently acquired Michael Taylor, now have their chances of seeing significant MLB playing time slashed dramatically.
Obviously it is still early in the offseason and what’s been a busy offseason will continue to be, so future moves can completely change what the 2010 landscape will look like. As for the A’s, either Hairston or perhaps Davis will be shipped out to alleviate the logjam in the outfield. And since we are talking about the A’s, once the season starts injuries will probably resolve any playing time conflicts that arise between players.
To recap, this signing is good for Crisp since he signed with a team that is dedicated to giving him playing time, but also negative since the A’s play in a poor hitters’ park and also have one of the worst offenses in the majors. The upcoming season appears to be a chance for the 30-year-old to redeem himself for the letdowns of past years, and playing in the relaxed Oakland atmosphere may provide him with the right scenery to post decent fantasy numbers reminiscent of his 2005 season.
Sweeney and Davis are not affected by the signing; however, that slew of A’s outfielders mentioned before—Hairston, Buck, Cunningham, and Taylor—all figure to lose playing time one way or another because of Crisp’s arrival to the Bay Area.