A player's popularity can rise and fall as quickly as his batting average or ERA. While as A's fans, we remain loyal to our team, our loyalty to individuals can sometimes be as fleeting as a single at-bat or one relief appearance. We've all seen Top Ten lists, and I thought it'd be a fun practice to post my top ten favorite current A's players (including position players and pitchers) as they stand right now.
Please do add on your list as well, and if this gains interest, we can do it with something resembling frequency. Please be as detailed with your descriptions as you like. You can vote players up or down based on long-term success or potential, how good they look in a uniform, or whatever you please. Nobody will be graded for right or wrong answers.
With any luck, we can be amused by changes over time or can get a collective view of AN's leanings...
And before anybody asks, yes, it is okay to include players on the DL or in the minors, if you must. But if they are traded, or waived, they cannot be listed. So please, no Todd Walker votes.
My Top 10 Favorite Current A's Players (May '07)
1. Jack Cust
Reasons: Seeming invincibility. The threat of a big home run or a walk in nearly every at bat. The story about rising from obscurity, yet the knowledge that AN knew about him "all along".
2. Travis Buck
Reasons: More extra base hits than singles. Excitement and hustle of a rookie, yet fits in extremely well with the rest of the A's squad. Looks "happy to be here". A feel good story after Spring Training success.
3. Nick Swisher
Reasons: Provides good power, plate discipline and plays well in the outfield and at 1st. A team leader despite young age, who always seems like he's having the time of his life. Gets along great with others like Bradley and Buck.
4. Milton Bradley
Reasons: Plays the game hard. Aside from Cust, Bradley is the guy I want at the plate with the game on the line. Puts fear into the hearts of the opposing pitcher and umpiring crew at the same time.
5. Dan Haren
Reasons: One of the world's best pitchers right now, period. Quietly goes about his game and somehow always keeps the opposition below 3 runs. Makes Billy Beane look like a genius for trading Mulder.
6. Eric Chavez
Reasons: Plays every single day at one of the most challenging positions on the field, and excels at it. Hits for power and functions as the team leader by example. Stayed in through 2006 despite injuries, at Beane's behest.
7. Joe Blanton
Reasons: One of the "true A's" character-wise, Blanton is a pitcher that can be counted on to go deep into a game every start, and keep his team in the game, with or without run support. Doesn't get excited when he does well or is in trouble, but remains steady.
8. Dan Johnson
Reasons: Figured out seeing one ball is better than two. After I was ready to run him out of the game last year, he is working the count, hitting for power, and causing trouble for opposing pitchers. Will probably move up if this continues.
9. Jay Marshall
Reasons: I dig the underhand style. Seeing him in Spring Training made him one to watch for me, and though his approach is unorthodox, it'll enable him to confuse batters just about every game.
10. Adam Melhuse
Reasons: Melhuse may be a surprise pick, but I can't help but root for the guy. Anytime Kendall comes up in late innings or with runners on, we're calling out for Melhuse. Seeing him at home games warming up a pitcher and quietly trotting back to the dugout is all too common. Melhuse is a guy I'm always pulling for, as a hard luck story.
So there you have it. Not always rational, but that's part of being a fan. My guess is you'll likely take issue with some of my suggestions, and have your own. Go to it, and give us what you've got.