I Shall Miss Gabraham the Most

Consider this about Gabe Gross’ $750K contract: Mark Kotsay will be making double that next year while providing fewer than half the value.

I’ve enjoyed watching and writing about Gross to almost hyperbolic levels. He’s a fantastic athlete, one who actually played quarterback for the University of Auburn, and has more range than a soprano. His arm isn’t half bad either. Offensively, Gross will strikeout a bit while walking and hitting the occasional home run. He rarely goes outside of the strike zone to chase a bad pitch. He’s largely ineffective against southpaws, making him a platoon player and defensive replacement on any consciously managed team.

There seems to be two chief concerns about Gross on the A’s:

1) The Athletics already have three defensive wizards in their outfield

2) The Athletics also have Travis Buck

Let’s address the second point first. Buck had a fine entrance to the Majors back in 2007 producing 2.3 WAR. Since then injuries have absolutely sunk any hopes of dependability the A’s can put on the 26-year-old. In fact, he has fewer plate appearances since 2007 for the A’s as Gross did last year. The hope for Buck is basically to be Gross: an average hitting corner outfielder with above average defensive abilities. Since the A’s appear able to make a run at the division this year, Gross seems to provide more reliability, even if Buck’s upside is higher.

The first point is one people constantly harp on with the Mariners, too. Runs are runs. If there’s any ballpark in America that can handle three range-blessed outfielders at once, it’s the canyon Oakland plays inside of. If two of the fielders overlap constantly, have one take a few steps away. Gross doesn’t have to live up to his CHONE projections to be worth the contract.

Matt Klaasen ran through the math in more vivid color than I will here, but there’s little room for failure when evaluating this deal in WAR to dollar terms.

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21 Responses to “I Shall Miss Gabraham the Most”

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  1. Zach Sanders says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    “Buck had a fine entrance to the Majors back in 200”

    Talk about a veteran.

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  2. New Guy says:

    while providing fewer than half the value.

    I think you mean less than half the value. Yeah, I’m the jerk on the internet who critiques your grammar.

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    • Joser says:

      Yeah, that bugged me too. It would be fewer than half the wins, less than half the value. One for definite, countable things; the other for indefinite, measurable-in-the-aggregate things.

      But I’m sure RJ knows that, and it’s just an editing hiccup.

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  3. CircleChange11 says:

    There has been FAR too much written about Gabe Gross already.

    In the article you linked to, it described Gross as .243/.342/.393 (CHONE) and then calls him a “league average hitter”? Is that league average for ALL position players or for corner outfielders?

    I ask because his projected rate stats seem like something a prospect from AA or AAA could achieve by coming up and playing (even struggling).

    He’s a 2 WAR for 150 games player, only that he’s not going to play 150 games for most, (any?) teams.

    He may be “valuable” in terms of “WAR & Contract”, but that doesn’t mean any teams want/need him. 4th OF’ers with decent defense and “some” bat are fairly common.

    I don’t dislike Gabe Gross or anything, but he’s not “feature” material of multiple articles … not unless we’re talking about his mom’s blog or something. Go ahead Momma Gross type away, but FG should give it a rest.

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    • jross says:

      Why you read it then?

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Because I read some things that I don’t necessarily agree with. I chalk it up to wanting to be open-minded.

        More likely it has to do with my crazed love of baseball and stats, that I read darn near everything.

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  4. El Diablo says:

    Just fyi…it’s Auburn University. People are quite particular about that here in Alabama.

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  5. R M says:

    I hate to be a debbie downer…. I like Fangraphs, but this article is so all over the place and riddled with so many unclear sentences and grammatical errors that I could barely follow it. Not even sure what the point of it was.

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  6. recca says:

    How can you barely follow this article? Boo-Hoo there are some errors, get over it.

    Circle Change the whole point is that Gross provides value as a platoon player at a small cost. Combine Gross and another player like him (Gabe Kapler?) and you create a stable portion of your team for much less than the going rate for a marginal win. Most importantly your team can concentrate allocate spending elsewhere on the team.

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    • Joe R says:

      That would actually make a solid platoon

      Kapler v. lefties: .291/.350/.494
      Gross v. righties: .251/.346/.414

      Of course, the Rays had no need to use up a roster spot on a platoon scenario.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I understand the the point that Gross *could* be a valuable platoon player.

      But, given that it requires an equal quality platoon piece to trump having just one guy man the roster spot or to prevent blocking a minor league player that could likely put up similar numbers, I don’t know that it’s as great of a situation as others do.

      I am highly interested in platoon situations, and would give them the nod in many instances … but they also create possible problematic situations if other things “aren’t in place”. I also think that platoon situations, particularly in the OF among “light hitters” for a low cost are only strong positive for a very small number of teams in specific situations.

      The article platoons and bullpens touches on many of the aspects I would be interested in, regarding such platoon situations … and the +/- of the situation would depend on the specific team/situation we were discussing.

      In my initial response, I discussed the situation of a minor league player potentially being able to produce similar stats, not in a platoon situation, which would also be at a very low cost … so that negates the loss cost positive of Gross + Player platoon. The question would be if there are enough players in a team’s system that could be promoted and put up similar numbers.

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  7. recca says:

    last sentence fail, ugh, forget it

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  8. J says:

    No offense to the author, but I must address a pet peeve of mine as an A’s fan:

    The reason pitchers do well in Oakland and hitters do not (aside from Beane being better at acquiring pitching) is NOT the “canyon Oakland plays in.”

    Sure, there is a lot of foul ground, but that hardly affects the outfielders (average foul ground once out that far.) The dimensions are avg.

    Once and for all (in my dreams, i’ve been correcting baseball fans and writers on this for it seems decades now:) for most of the baseball season the cold night air in Oakland (moreso in SF, WAY less if they ever move to SJ,) slows balls down, makes batters’ hands cold and simply is the main reason for the stats you see.

    Ever heard “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in SF?” Well, there you have it. Hard to hit. Hard to stay warm. Guys simply don’t grip the bat and swing the same when it’s that cold (really a wet cold.)

    (It would be even worse if the A’s played 5-10 minutes north in say North Berkeley, where the fog visibly rolls right in through the gate.)

    And to make this whole matter shrouded in fog for the avg non bay area fan even more, whenever the A’s have played late into the season and are on TV then or in the playoffs….THAT is when the weather warms up, so many get a false impression.

    Thank you, drive through.

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    • schmenkman says:

      Run Scoring park factors for the past 6 years, 2004 to 2009:
      1.01 1.06 0.92 0.83 0.92 0.97

      It’s moderately, but not extremely, pitcher-friendly. It’s no Petco Park, but in perhaps in the second or third tier of offense dampening.

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      • J says:

        Yes, Schmenkman, but again, the question is WHY are the park factors thus.

        And that’s just constantly misunderstood. I am here to tell ALL who read this: The reason Oakland’s park factors spit out the slanted to pitching stats you see is the WEATHER. End of story.

        In fact, if the dimensions were actually, well, like this author here and most writers and fans mistakenly think, actually larger than most, THEN it would be like Petco, who’s dimensions are huge while their weather is better for hitting.

        I simply remain amazed so few seem to get this. Go ahead. Look up the dimensions. Avg down the lines. Actually close in the alleys, somewhat made up for with higher walls there. Avg to CF.

        Really people. Day games are OK, but look up not only the night game time temps, but know it subsequently gets way more cold as those night games go. And that it is, again, a wet cold that comes down from the Alaskan swirl weather system (90% of the time the Bay Area gets it’s weather from that pattern, out of the NW.)

        Also, take a look, from April through July and often early Aug, at what A’s fans are wearing for night games. Gander at the thick A’s blankets and wool caps. This is not for style.

        What is it? The fact Oakland is in California and most simply CANNOT get their heads around California being cold, especially in baseball season?

        Know it. Learn it.

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      • schmenkman says:

        Sorry J, should have read down further…

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      • Paul Thomas says:

        I have to disagree about Petco. Petco is a huge park which is ALSO abominably bad for hitters weather-wise. That’s why it’s so consistently the most hitting-hostile park in baseball.

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  9. Rust says:

    Yeah, but have you seen Mark Kotsay’s wife?

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  10. wobatus says:

    Gross is a decent 4th of/platoon guy and it isn’t a bad signing. I’d rather have Buck. Better hitter when healthy I think (and I know health is the question) and 5 years younger, not a bad fielder it seems (not as good as Gross), and also cheap. I would just rather see him have some chance to grow as a player and go for the possible upside. With Taylor in the wings, and Brown, I think they could gamble on Buck. After trading away of depth and then having Desme retire on them, I can see why they maybe felt they needed Gross, but still not like they are hurting for outfielders. Feels like they were just never happy with Cunningham either, kinda treated like the righty Buck.

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  11. J says:

    You may be right Paul Thomas.

    I stated SD has better weather for hitting than the Bay Area teams (Oakland for this example) because even while SD does have night game marine layer issues as well, they do have warmer overall weather and aren’t AS known for their fog etc.

    But, that said, I probably did overstate that. SD does have a marine layer, much cooler at night issue too. And their dimensions are much larger than Oakland’s.

    The rest of you though, please use this info in the future. I really believe most folks think of California in a somewhat mystified way, i.e. that somehow “it’s CA, it can’t be that cold, especially in summer.”

    Go to a night game in the Bay Area in June and don’t forget your jacket. The Bay Area gets what most of you call summer in late late summer on the calender, going into fall. September and much of October is when the Bay warms up (while almost never getting warm nights like the rest of the country….unless you go way inland. Micro climates due to the bay etc.)

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