Battle of the Bay: Who is the best position player?

Battle of the Bay: Who is the best position player?
July 7, 2014, 7:45 am
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Josh Donaldson is 28 years old, while Buster Posey is 27. (USATI)

Editor's note: We're asking a new question each morning of the Bay Bridge Series this week. Tune in to a special SportsNet Central tonight at 6 p.m. as Insiders Andrew Baggarly and Joe Stiglich provide their answers to tonight's question: 

Who is the best Bay Area position player?

Here are Insiders Andrew Baggarly and Joe Stiglich's picks:

Joe Stiglich - A's Insider
 Josh Donaldson

Donaldson has transformed himself from a backup catcher into one of the American League’s top all-around players. That was on display throughout last season, when he hit .301 with 24 home runs and 93 RBI to finish fourth in AL MVP voting. This season, Donaldson ranks 10th among all major league position players in WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, an all-encompassing stat used to judge a player’s overall worth. No position player on either Bay Area team ranks higher in that category.

On Sunday, he became the A's first fan-elected All-Star starter since Jason Giambi in 2000. He entered Sunday tied for third in the AL in runs and tied for sixth in home runs (19) and RBI (62). There’s no one the A’s would rather have up in a clutch situation. Donaldson is a .315 career hitter with runners in scoring position (entering Sunday), and his 17 go-ahead RBI this season rank fifth in the league.

But what makes Donaldson truly stand out is his defense. He is excellent gobbling up grounders to his left or right, and if he leaves his feet, he’s quick to recover and unload a strong throw across the diamond.

You want range? He’s a staple on highlight shows for the pop-ups he tracks down in the Coliseum’s expansive foul territory.

Donaldson does it with the glove and bat. He’s the best position player in the Bay Area.

Andrew Baggarly - Giants Insider
Buster Posey

Posey's already been an NL Rookie of the Year, an NL MVP, he caught two World Series winners, he helps old ladies across the street and rescues kittens from trees.

Buster Posey is the most accomplished baseball player in the Bay Area. Up until a few weeks ago, I probably wouldn’t have argued that he was the best current player on the A’s or Giants roster, though. Posey hit .244 with two home runs after the All-Star break last year and his extra-base power remained largely absent through the end of May this season.

These are his full-season numbers in 145 games if you begin at July 1 of last season and end at June 30 of this year: .278 average, .346 on-base percentage, 24 doubles, 0 triples, 12 home runs, 59 runs scored and 64 RBIs. Mostly meh, right? But Posey just finished a June in which he quietly shined while hitting .362 with 10 doubles. He has the smooth finish back in his swing, and he remains a leader behind the plate.

Josh Donaldson might have the best overall numbers, Yoenis Cespedes is a threat at the plate (and could throw out a runner at the plate from Jack London Square) and Hunter Pence will give you a jolt of energy every single day. But if you’re building a team, you start with Posey. Still.

Other candidates considered:

Yoenis Cespedes
Elected to his first All-Star Game on Sunday (he won the Home Run Derby last season). He's hitting .262 this season with 14 home runs and 55 RBI.

[RELATED: Cespedes, Donaldson both HR Derby candidates]

Derek Norris
Elected to his first All-Star Game on Sunday. He's hitting .306 with eight home runs and 36 RBI over 65 games this season.

Brandon Moss
Elected to his first All-Star Game on Sunday 2.5 years after signing a minor league contract with the A's. He's hitting .272 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI.

Hunter Pence
Elected to his third All-Star Game on Sunday. He's hitting .301 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI this season.

Michael Morse
The first-year Giant is leading the club in both home runs (14) and RBI (46).

[RELATED: Pence, Bumgarner hopeful Giants' All-Star contingent will grow]

Angel Pagan
Has not played since June 14 because of an ailing back. The Giants are 6-13 since he went down. He's hitting .307 this season with a .356 OBP

Be sure to check back each day for our next topic of debate for the Battle of the Bay series. 


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