Note: This is the sixth article in a multi-part series assessing the Oakland A’s 2010 season. Read the fifth installment here.
The Oakland Athletics were fortunate to have two solid players at second base for most of the 2010 season, and that depth will be necessary again in 2011.
Regular starter Mark Ellis was retained by the club for another year, but in 2010 — for the third season in a row — the veteran missed significant time due to injury. At age 33, he’s not getting any younger, but Ellis has only played 150 or more games twice in his nine-year career.
He also missed the entire 2004 season to injury, so he’s never been a healthy guy to begin with.
However, when Ellis is healthy, he’s vital to the team’s success. His defense is stellar (only three errors last season), and his bat is generally solid. In 2010, Ellis hit .291, his second-best season mark ever (he hit .316 in 2005), for example.
But his power last season was at its worst since his rookie season (2002): the A’s veteran delivered only 29 extra-base hits, compared to 33 such hits in 2009 when he went to the plate 60 times less. However, his on-base percentage (.358) was one of the higher marks of his career, showing that Ellis is certainly using his experience to his advantage.
Due to his injuries, Ellis played in only 116 games in 2010, so the gap at second base was filled by utility man Adam Rosales. Until he went down with his own injuries in August, Rosales played 47 games in place of Ellis at the position and faired solidly for a young player with limited exposure to the majors prior to last season.
He hit .267 while playing second base, and his defense was impeccable: Rosales didn’t make a single error at the position in those 47 games.
Rosales’ value lies in his ability to play many positions, and it’s good for the A’s to know that if Ellis goes down again — which is more than likely — they have a capable replacement as they used to when Marco Scutaro was on the roster.
For a team like Oakland, it’s impossible to have a great player at every position. And second base is certainly a position where the A’s aren’t exceptionally strong — like catcher and first base, they have capable players.
But they don’t have any stars.
This theme becomes very routine when examining the Oakland lineup, in truth, so it’s important to at least have capable veterans at every position on the field.