This season has seen multiple players vying for the MVP of the A’s. Some are obvious (Josh Donaldson, Bartolo Colon, Coco Crisp, and Jed Lowrie) while some are not as obvious (Stephen Vogt, Dan Otero, Jarrod Parker, and Dan Straily). One thing that has remained constant throughout the year is constant contributions from the entire team. This leads to an open debate on who the team MVP is. For my MVP I am going to go outside of the norm, I assume most of you chose Josh Donaldson, and went with someone who was an under the radar pick up who as the year has gone on has gained a larger role within their position. That man is none other than Dan Otero.
A little background on Otero. He was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2007, but didn’t make it to the big leagues until last season. In March he was designated for assignment and claimed by the New York Yankees. The very next day the Yankees designated him for assignment and the A’s jumped at the opportunity, apparently seeing something in Otero other teams didn’t. It could have been Otero’s 5.84 ERA in 2012. This could have been inflated however due to his ridiculously unlucky .422 BABIP. A normal pitcher will have just over a .300 BABIP against him. Therefore Otero was due for a bounce back year. He does not give up home runs, the offspring of his nasty sinker.
This season Otero has a 1.43 ERA in 37.2 IP. He may have started out pitching in situations where the game was out of hand one way or another. But Otero kept pitching better and better. He now pitches in tense situations late in the game picking up the slack for struggling reliever Ryan Cook. He is very reminiscent of Brad Ziegler statistically and in their repertoires. They would come through when it mattered most. They don’t strikeout too many batters, but the sinker they both possess is just as valuable and effective.
The value that Otero means to the A’s is not as visible as a Josh Donaldson’s or Bartolo Colon’s. It comes in short bursts a couple game a week. However, he keeps the lead in hand and has helped win the A’s multiple games in big situations, think Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers to name a couple. Less forty percent of inherited runners have scored against him, he has allowed more than one earned run in an appearance only once this year, and has over a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Ryan Cook had a tumultuous September at best as the A’s right-handed set up man. His role was not taken away, but it was reduced. Who came to save the day? None other than Dan Otero. The sub $500K reliever has pitched like a multi million dominant set up man. This is another bargain the A’s found that has paid huge dividends especially in big time situations. He is one of the main reasons the A’s repeated as AL West champions on Sunday. This post season may finally be the light he needs to shine and get the attention and recognition he deserves. That is why he is my A’s MVP for 2013.