With Jed Lowrie set to be a free agent after this season, the Athletics will most likely have to prepare for life with a new starting shortstop. Up until recently, the A’s had dodged the Lowrie injury bug. Looking ahead to 2015, the A’s should look no further than Andy Parrino, instead of rolling the dice with Lowrie’s injury history.
Andy Parrino is hitting .167, approaching age 29 and is the last remnant that Oakland has of emerging ace Tyson Ross. Acquired by Oakland from San Diego on November 16th, 2012 along with Andrew Werner, Parrino is finally getting his shot with the A’s, and is making the most of it. Werner is with Double-A affiliate Midland this season, after struggling to the tune of a 5.78 ERA in Sacramento last season. Midland has been even worse for Werner. He’s boasting a 6.32 ERA in 8 starts.
Parrino spent the early part of 2014 in an Adam Rosales-esque waiver wire tomfoolery, being claimed and released by the Texas Rangers. Since his call-up to the bigs, Parrino isn’t lighting it up offensively, but he has improved some over his stint from last season.
While neither season’s stats will overwhelm you, there is an increase in productivity at the plate. His walks are up, and strikeouts are down. He’s driven in 3 in an offense that hasn’t been scoring a ton of runs either.
Andy Parrino’s offense isn’t what this is about however. It’s Parrino’s defense that is opening the eyes of many. In Sacramento, his nickname was “The Magician” and I doubt that’s because of his fondness for top hats and rabbits.
In his limited action, Parrino has accumulated a dWAR (Defensive Wins Above replacement) of 0.4 in 14 games. According to Baseball Reference, his range factor is 3.99 at shortstop, the same as Jed Lowrie. Their fielding percentage is also an identical 97.3%. The difference is that Parrino makes plays, while Lowrie attempts them.
Jed Lowrie’s WAR is 1.2, combining both offense and defense (offense 1.3, defense -0.1). If we extrapolate Parrino’s WAR of 0.4 in 14 games, over the course of the 110 games Lowrie has played in, Parrino comes in with a dWAR of 3.14. If his dWAR being the same amount as Pi isn’t a sign that he should be an Oakland A, I don’t know what is.
With Parrino’s defensive ability alone, he would be more valuable to the Athletics than Lowrie, and cost much less. There is nothing but room for improvement at the plate, which would push is WAR even higher.
According to SportingCharts, the A’s rank 13th in baseball in ground ball to fly ball ratio. This is simply the number of ground ball outs compared to outs through the air. Thus far, the A’s have recorded 1,602 ground ball outs and 1,061 fly ball outs for a ratio of 1.51.
With the number of outs on the ground being so high, and the A’s rotation slated to look very similar next season, it’s imperative that they employ someone with solid defensive abilities up the middle. Nick Punto has a club option for 2015, and hits lefties better than righties (.247 to .163). Andy Parrino hits the exact opposite, .190 against righties and .133 versus southpaws. His lone home run also came against a righty. This has platoon potential written all of it.
The sample size on Parrino this season is small, but defense is one tool that doesn’t disappear overnight. Not even if you’re a magician.