Why Kyler Murray picking the NFL wouldn't be end of the world for A's


Why Kyler Murray picking the NFL wouldn't be end of the world for A's

The A's fully knew the risks involved when they chose Kyler Murray ninth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft.

Billy Beane and Co. decided Murray's unique talent made him worth a roll of the dice. Unfortunately, it looks like it came up snake eyes.

The A's expect Murray to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported he is leaning toward playing professional football over baseball. A team source told NBC Sports California that if Murray attends the NFL Scouting Combine in late February, rather than spring training, he is "as good as gone."

At first glance, this feels like a disaster for the A's. While they would recoup the nearly $5 million signing bonus they gave Murray, they would not receive a compensatory draft pick, meaning they wasted the selection.

However, the MLB draft is a bit different than its counterparts in the NFL and NBA. When a football or basketball team makes a poor first-round pick, it can set the franchise back years. In baseball, the draft is more of a crap shoot, where late-round selections often have as much success as first-rounders.

Just look at the sheer number of players selected in the MLB draft compared to the other sports. The 2018 baseball draft featured a staggering 40 rounds and more than 1,200 picks. Basketball's draft lasts just two rounds. Football's goes seven.

Even if Murray decided to play baseball, there is no guarantee he would ever reach the big leagues. There have been countless first-round picks who haven't panned out the way teams had hoped.

Between 2000 and 2015, the A's owned at least one first-round selection in 14 of the 16 drafts. Here is a breakdown of their first selection each year:

2015: Richie Martin - 20th overall
2014: Matt Chapman - 25th overall
2013: Billy McKinney - 24th overall
2012: Addison Russell - 11th overall
2011: Sonny Gray - 18th overall
2010: Michael Choice - 10th overall
2009: Grant Green - 13th overall
2008: Jemile Weeks - 12th overall
2007: James Simmons - 26th overall
2006: No pick
2005: Cliff Pennington - 21st overall
2004: Landon Powell - 24th overall
2003: Brad Sullivan - 23rd overall
2002: Nick Swisher - 16th overall
2001: Bobby Crosby - 21st overall
2000: No pick

Of that group, less than half truly made an impact at the major league level. For every Matt Chapman or Nick Swisher, there is a Brad Sullivan or Michael Choice. Heck, the A's let Richie Martin go for nothing in last month's Rule 5 Draft.

It's not just the A's that have had their share of draft misses. Here's a breakdown of No. 9 overall picks (where Kyler Murray was selected) between 2000 and 2015:

2015: Ian Happ - Cubs
2014: Jeff Hoffman - Blue Jays
2013: Austin Meadows - Pirates
2012: Andrew Heaney - Marlins
2011: Javier Baez - Cubs
2010: Karsten Whitson - Padres
2009: Jacob Turner - Tigers
2008: Aaron Crow - Nationals
2007: Jarrod Parker - Diamondbacks
2006: Billy Rowell - Orioles
2005: Mike Pelfrey - Mets
2004: Chris Nelson - Rockies
2003: John Danks - Rangers
2002: Jeff Francis - Rockies
2001: Colt Griffin - Royals
2000: Mark Phillips - Padres

Be honest, how many of those names have you even heard of? Obviously, Javy Baez turned into a star for the Cubs, but the majority of these picks didn't pan out.

Is the Murray situation ideal? Of course not. A's fans have a right to be upset any time a first-round pick doesn't work out. But just remember, Murray wouldn't be the first draft bust, and he certainly wouldn't be the last.

A's teammates 'respect' Mike Fiers for speaking out against Astros

A's teammates 'respect' Mike Fiers for speaking out against Astros

A's third baseman Matt Chapman isn't the type to dwell on the past, even though the A’s finished runner-up in the AL West behind Houston in 2018 and 2019. But the Platinum Glove winner certainly does see changes resulting from the Astros cheating scandal.   

“The future for them is looking a little different right now,” Chapman said Friday. “And the future for the A’s is exciting.”

It’s not like the sign-stealing tactics in south Texas are news to Oakland A’s players at all. They were tipped off during the 2018 season.   

“Whatever they did, if we would have been more careful, I still think we could have beat them on any given day,” shortstop Marcus Semien said. “And we showed that during the end of the year when we changed the signs and just played our game.”

Players haven’t chatted much amongst each other about the involvement of their teammate, Mike Fiers, who was the named source that put MLB’s entire investigation into motion.

“At the end fo the day, we’re united behind the fact that we embrace what Fiers did,” closer Liam Hendriks said. “We’re trying to clean up the game, and if it takes somebody putting their name to it, that shows a lot of courage.”

As for Fiers being a “rat,” Chapman offered disagreed with that characterization.

“I don’t think it’s right to call him that," Chapman said. "I have nothing but respect for Mike. I think he was put in a tough situation and he did the right thing, and that baseball is going to be better for it.”

As for Fiers speaking out against his former club, Semien applauded the pitcher's actions.

[RELATED: Melvin calls Fiers a 'hero']

“He was approached by the media, and the only one to put his name on it," Semien said. "I totally respect that. Sure there were other sources, he’s not the only one. But we’re happy the game is going to get cleaned up by this.”

Semien also thinks the punishments and firings of manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow will have an effect across MLB.

“The suspensions, they’re serious,” Marcus said. “Teams aren’t going to do this anymore.”

A's Matt Chapman discusses where he ranks among elite third baseman


A's Matt Chapman discusses where he ranks among elite third baseman

OAKLAND -- When it comes to deciding who the best third baseman is in baseball, it could make for an interesting debate.

But we can all agree the defensive edge goes to Matt Chapman, right? Right?! Well, maybe. He has some tough competition. 

I asked him between himself, Rockies' third baseman Nolan Arenado and Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who would rank at the top. 

"Another one that just got thrown into our division, too, Anthony Rendon, but I've never seen him play -- I would probably say Nolan's probably got the edge right now," Chapman told NBC Sports California. "And then Bregman, because I've never finished in the top three of MVP like those guys have and I've never hit 40 home runs like they have."

"I might have the edge on defense a little bit, but Nolan's a combo of both," he said.

Chapman admitted Bregman has the bat. 

Bregman's numbers have improved over the years and he leaves a .296/.423/.592 line with 41 home runs in 2019. 

"I might have defense over [Bregman], but Nolan has both of us combined it seems like," Chapman said. 

Arenado, well -- his resume is filled with five All-Star selections, seven Gold Glove Awards, three Platinum and four Silver Sluggers. He too, hit 41 home runs last season which tends to be a type of norm for him over his career. 

So Arenado, Chapman's former teammate at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif., wins in his eyes. 

At least for now. 

"I can hopefully give him a run for his money one day," Chapman said. 

The new, defensive stats certainly help Chapman's case. The OAA, or Outs Above Average, stat has been introduced to the world of baseball for stat nerds to salivate over.

Chapman ranks sixth in the metric, in all of baseball -- and you can learn more about that measurement, here. It's something the two-time Platinum Glove winner is curious about. 

"It's cool to have that, but I think Defensive Runs Saved is number one," Chapman said.

He joked he only cares about a defensive stat where he's at the top.

"Maybe because I'm not first in that category, so I don't think it's worth, you know anything," he laughed. "You know, if I'm not the best, then it's stupid."

[RELATED: Fiers looks toward future, past Astros scandal]

"I'm joking about that, but sadly, almost being truthful about that," he said. "I need to know more about how they get that because I feel like I play so deep -- I don't dive on as many balls. I might have to play more routinely and it doesn't look like it's an above-average play just because it doesn't fit that criteria so I have to hear more about it, so defensive runs for me is a good checkpoint."

The A's led the league in DEF (Defensive Runs Above Average) last season with 42.9 and 10th in DRS. Chapman alone ranked seventh in the league in DRS with 18.