Athletics

A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

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A's 2019 Projections: Josh Phegley could start unless team makes moves

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

Unless the A's add another catcher, Josh Phegley is poised to get the most playing time of his big league career. Phegley and Chris Herrmann are currently the only catchers on the A's active roster and they figure to platoon behind the plate.

Last season, Phegley hit .204/.255/.344 with two home runs, seven doubles, and 15 RBI in 39 games. The 30-year-old re-signed with the A's in November for one year at $1.075 million.

Phegley has a career slash line of .223/.264/.372. His best season came in 2015 when he hit .249/.300/.449 with a career-high nine homers and 34 RBI.

Phegley has performed slightly better against left-handed pitching throughout his career, hitting .243/.279/.414. The right-handed hitter figures to get most of next season's at-bats against southpaws, with Herrmann starting against righties.

Phegley has also been solid defensively throughout his career, maintaining a .992 fielding percentage and throwing out 33 percent of attempted base stealers, five points above the league average.

Baseball Reference projects Phegley to hit .223/.285/.368 next year with six home runs, 15 doubles, and 28 RBI. They estimate him at 242 at-bats, which would be a career-high.

[RELATED: Chris Herrmann 2019 projections]

Phegley has done everything the A's have asked of him over the years and proven to be a consistent player and great clubhouse presence. We expect a slight improvement from last season, especially if he gets increased playing time.

Projection: .227/.297/.374, 6 HR, 12 doubles, 27 RBI

Slugger Mark McGwire 'ecstatic' to be inducted into A's Hall of Fame

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Slugger Mark McGwire 'ecstatic' to be inducted into A's Hall of Fame

OAKLAND -- The A's officially inducted their second Hall of Fame class Saturday night in a pre-game ceremony on the Coliseum field.

It was a star-studded class, featuring Mark McGwire, Tony La Russa, Vida Blue, Bert Campaneris, and Walter A. Haas Jr. For McGwire, it represented a long-awaited homecoming in Oakland, as he had to miss the 30th anniversary reunion of the 1989 World Series championship team earlier this year.

"I couldn't wait to tell my family," McGwire said of the honor. "Other than my son Matt, my family now wasn't here when this all existed. So this is the first time they get to see Oakland and Oakland rock."

McGwire did get to come to the Coliseum last season as a member of the San Diego Padres coaching staff, but this was different. When he found out he had earned the team's Hall of Fame honor, he was deeply moved.

"I was like, 'Wow, that's really cool,'" McGwire said. "It just catches you off guard. I saw what happened last year and I was like, 'Oh they're starting to do something like that.' I didn't know if I'd get a call this year or whenever, but I was ecstatic."

McGwire still cherishes the memories of his time in Oakland, where he spent 12 seasons and made nine All-Star Games.

"We had some great runs here," McGwire said. "I played with many Hall of Fame players, stud athletes, and the third-winningest (manager) in MLB history (La Russa). I'm blessed. I'm truly blessed."

Of course, McGwire's career has been somewhat tainted by his use of performance-enhancing drugs, which has kept him out of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. While he hopes to someday be enshrined in Cooperstown, he says he doesn't think about it too much these days.

"I don't," McGwire said. "If I'm blessed to get that call someday, it'd be another great day."

[RELATED: The Lonely Island spoofs Bash Brothers]

In the meantime, McGwire has enjoyed watching this year's A's team and thinks they have what it takes to make a deep run in the postseason.

"We're tied with Boston for the third-most World Series wins with nine," he said. "Just watching the way the team is playing right now, I'd say they're playing very well at the right time. So they might be breaking that little tie with the Boston Red Sox."

What's behind Marcus Semien's power surge? Analysts examine A's star

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What's behind Marcus Semien's power surge? Analysts examine A's star

Marcus Semien has been something else this season.

Far different from the shortstop who previously struggled at the position and needed guidance from 10-year MLB infielder and former A's third base coach Ron Washington.

Now Semien finds himself quietly becoming one of the hottest hitters in baseball, but it's not going to be a muffled for long.

Entering play on Saturday, Semien is slashing .284/.365/.517 with 31 home runs and 88 RBI in 2019.

His improvement was spotlighted during a recent segment on MLB Network when Mark DeRosa and Bill Ripken gushed over how Semien's production has almost doubled in certain offensive categories.

Semien's 137 OPS+ is the tenth highest in the AL with his 7.4 WAR being the third highest in the league. 

So what's working for him?

"He's controlling the strike zone, he knows what he's about," DeRosa said. 

And Semien is being productive against a variety of pitchers at different fields as well. 

His strikeouts are down quite a bit, and his walk percentage has risen along with his chase percentage -- that means he's increased his plate discipline, a factor DeRosa mentioned in regard to the maturation process a player has as seasons go by:

His slugging percentage against pitches 95-mph or faster has risen steadily as he's gone from .350 during the 2015-18 seasons to .625 in 2019.

Ripken and DeRosa tried to notice something different, but they agreed his swing was pretty spot on when comparing this season to last back-to-back.

[RELATED: Semien deserves MVP consideration]

Perhaps it was mental -- the confidence certainly shows. Perhaps the bat that he switched is a bigger factor than we realize. 

But Ripken loves what he sees from a player who is playing every day.