When the A’s acquired John Jaso on Wednesday A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen, and a player to be named it seemed right off the bat to be a productive deal for the team, but came at too steep a price. It wasn’t that Jaso was a bad baseball player, he had a fine season in Seattle in 2012. So what was it? Something just didn’t sit right with me about the deal.
Let’s take a quick look at Jaso’s 2012, he posted a .276/.394/.456 slash line in 362 plate appearances, struck out a mere 51 times, and walked 56 times. His plate discipline and ability to put the ball in play paid dividends, his .298 BABIP is just about dead on the league average so he wasn’t riding luck either. His 143 wRC+ would have been top 10 in the Majors if he had enough PA to qualify. So without a doubt Jaso made significant contributions to the Mariners, and should theoretically be able to do the same in Oakland in 2013. But he still bears a strong resemblance to another player who will don the white cleats in 2013, perhaps one of the most polarizing figures in recent Athletics history. He’s the man everyone loves to hate, or hates to love, Daric Barton.
The mere mention of Barton will either send fans into a frenzy of plate discipline, or a rage of writing backwards K’s in their scorebooks. I saw Jaso compared to some big time names (You know who you are) today and it reminded me of the discussions had after the 2010 season that some A’s fans thought Barton was more valuable than Ryan Howard. While some advanced stats, namely WAR indicated (Barton’s 5.0 to Howard’s 1.4) that Barton had a superior season. For this writer, the fact that Howard hit 31 home runs that year in what was something of a down season overrides Barton’s plate discipline. But the Barton supporters persisted, much like the supporters of this deal do (Not that I don’t like Jaso, just not at the cost of Cole).
Let’s take a look at Barton’s 2010 though, by far his finest in the Major Leagues. In 686 plate appearances Barton posted a .273/.393/.405 line, extremely close in AVG and OBP, a bit lower in SLG% though. Barton walked about twice the amount Jaso did in 2012, 110 (which did lead the AL) to Jaso’s 56, but also struck out twice as much, 102 to Jaso’s 51 K’s. Barton took a ton more walks, but also struck out a ton more. They each hit 10 home runs, Barton drove in 57 runs to Jaso’s 50, Barton hit 33 doubles and Jaso hit 19 (Remember Jaso’s much lower PA count though).
They each have their own specialties, Barton took a lot of walks, Jaso proved extremely difficult to strike out. They provide the occasional pop, and have decent success when they put the ball in play. Barton was valuable in 2010, and Jaso should prove valuable in 2013. The question will be whether what Jaso provides will be enough to justify his acquisition. Time will tell.