Wednesday night A.J. Griffin went eight strong innings in the process of the A’s winning their sixth game in a row and their 12th in a row on the road.
Griffin is part of a group of rookies that has propelled the A’s to the doorstep of the playoffs. The A’s have had a total of 22 rookies suit up for them this season and they have been a big portion of how this team has exceeded expectations.
On the pitching staff rookies Griffin, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and Travis Blackley have all made at least 11 starts and all have been outstanding. The bullpen is not short on amazing rookie arms either, with Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Jordan Norberto all appearing in at least 30 games for the A’s.
On offense the A’s have gotten at least 100 plate appearances from Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, Chris Carter, Collin Cowgill, Derek Norris and Eric Sogard. These guys haven’t been necessarily been as valuable as the pitchers, but have still been a big part of the team’s winning ways.
Just to see how much these guys have meant to the team, I went to FanGraphs and pulled up the Wins Above Replacement accumulated by the A’s rookies compared to the rest of baseball. Through last night A’s rookies have been worth 15 WAR. The next best team is the Angels at 9.4. The Angels also have the benefit of Mike Trout, who is putting up MVP type numbers and accounts for 90 percent of their cumulative rookie WAR.
It is even more amazing when you look at how large a portion of the A’s overall value has been due to the rookies. This season the A’s have accumulated 36 WAR as a team, with 15 coming from rookies — that’s 42%. The next highest teams are the Rockies and Angels at 23%, while league average is 11% this season.
It’s pretty amazing what the A’s have done this year and even more so when you consider that a big chunk of the guys hadn’t completed a full major league season before.