In a league where the home run has become the most efficient form of scoring runs, defensive play in baseball has lost some of its luster.
While web gems always make for a nice addition to the summertime highlight reels, elite defensive players continue to be valued lower than those who present a stronger offensive presence.
The A’s, however, feature some of the best defense MLB has to offer. In addition to finishing tied for third as a team in fielding percentage (.987), first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman won Gold Glove awards, Chapman's second-consecutive time receiving the honor.
Looking to the minor leagues, MLB.com’s Mike Rosenbaum put together a list of the top fielding prospects from each position, primarily based on an executive poll from all 30 MLB teams. Oakland was well-represented, with two of its younger players being named in catcher Sean Murphy and shortstop Nick Allen.
Murphy, the A’s No. 3 prospect (MLB.com), made the list despite playing just 53 games this past season. Rosenbaum noted that Murphy registered two of the hardest-thrown balls on base-stealing attempts, including one at 87.4-mph that would have ranked fourth-best in MLB.
Allen, meanwhile, was noted by Rosenbaum to have been “perhaps the best defensive player in the 2017 Draft.” Allen is listed as Oakland's No. 6 prospect by MLB.com.
“Yeah, I call him the magic man,” Stockton Ports manager Webster Garrison said about Allen (h/t The Athletic). “I mean, it’s fun to watch him play. Good hands, strong arm, lots of range out there and he positions himself.”
Not only are the A’s already a great defensive team, but there are more elite gloves coming up through Oakland’s farm system.
The future is looking bright for manager Bob Melvin and Co.