The trade deadline is approaching quickly and many analysts believe that the A’s need to make an upgrade at a middle infield position. Lowrie is having a tremendous year and will be the player that will stay put in the middle infield. This would leave Eric Sogard, who has played more than any other player at second base, without a starting position. If the A’s trade for a shortstop, most likely, Lowrie would move over to second base — this makes the most sense because he lacks the range and arm strength the team would like to have from its shortstop. Lowrie has played 22 games at second base already this season so it would be a smooth transition for him. But the A’s could still get a second baseman and leave Lowrie at shortstop. Either way Sogard still finds himself sitting on the bench.
Could the A’s stick with Sogard and Lowrie up the middle?
Well, everyone knows that the Oakland Athletics organization has always been obsessed with OBP (on-base percentage). Or to take one of the factors that makes up OBP, the organization has been obsessed with walks. A’s players have been groomed through the A’s farm system to be patient and take walks when they can. Eric Sogard, although not a complete product of the A’s system, knows how to draw a walk.
After the A’s traded to get Sogard from the San Diego Padres — in a deal that included Kevin Kouzmanoff in exchange for Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham — he spent his 2010 season with the Sacramento River Cats where he played 137 games and led the team in walks with 75.
In 2013, after having an amazing spring training, Sogard has been the A’s go-to-guy at second base. He has gone on a few hot streaks and has shown signs of the guy we saw in spring training, but he has been an overall average player that hits in the nine spot for the Athletics. Lets not forget, the A’s are a team that also prides themselves on good pitching and defense, and Sogard is a wizard with the glove. So, we know he can draw a walk and he can play good defense — sounds like a typical A’s player.
Lets take a look at Sogard’s 2013 stats. He is tied for fifth on the team in games played (81); he is tied for seventh on the team in runs scored (31); he is seventh on the team in hits (59); he is fourth in doubles with 17; he has two home runs, and is ranked 11th on the team with 19 free passes. Sogard has a slash line of .263/.331/.375. His batting average is respectable, and his on-base percentage is go0d, but his slugging percentage is terrible. But lets remember that this is production from a nine hitter, which isn’t bad. He is also tied for second on the team in stolen bases with seven.
It is hard to look at Sogard’s numbers and really get a feel for his impact on the team. So, after watching him a few weeks ago, I noticed how many times he walked and set the table for the top of the A’s line-up. This was in a stretch of seven games and he walked five times. You always hear the saying “a walk is as good as a hit” and in some cases its true. Some times its even better than a hit because it makes the opposing pitcher throw more pitches which ultimately makes him work harder. After the past seven games Sogard has walked zero times. Zero. But, Sogard has managed to hit .375 with three doubles, a home run and three RBI during this time.
Eric Sogard is more valuable then most people give him credit for. Although I think the A’s need more production from his position to win a championship, I still believe they are a championship caliber team either way. Lets see what Billy Beane decides to do at the trade deadline. We don’t know what he might do, but we do know whatever he decides will be a nice surprise.