Perhaps one of the biggest surprises this year for the A’s was the emergence of a new team leader in SS Cliff Pennington. Pennington, a player I was not a huge fan of prior to the start of the season, has won me over in more ways than none.
Despite putting together a rather solid 2010 campaign, Pennington didn’t really blow my mind or anything. Personally, I thought the A’s should have added insurance by getting another shortstop. After this year’s performance, however, I was wrong to cast so much doubt about Pennington’s skills.
Pennington, or “Penny,” as he’s now known as, will enter the 2012 season, in my mind, a leader within the clubhouse. His numbers this year came extraordinarily close to the one’s he produced in ’10, but he still came away as one of Oakland’s better hitters this year.
He hit .264/.319/.369 with 8 HR and 58 RBIs in 148 games this season, and while he’s no where near the level or a top tier SS like Troy Tulowitzki, he’s probably the best option for Oakland right now.
Until SS Grant Green arrives, that is. Green, to me, at least, remains one of the organization’s best young prospects. Many people, however, have written him off, pointing to his subpar performance this past year. That’s another story, but I’ll keep to my point and say that Pennington remains Oakland’s best option at shortstop until Green arrives.
Pennington, while not a for-sure thing with his defense, as evident by his 22 errors this season, is still a well-rounded player according to Oakland’s standards. Heck, he hit .348/.406/.496 with 3 HR and 48 RBIs with runners in scoring position. Kurt “Clutch” Suzuki in comparison, only managed a .204/.288/.262 slash line with runners in scoring position.
I’ve always had my doubts with Pennington, but I’ve come to realize that not all teams can have a Troy Tulowitzki, so I encourage all of you out there to embrace Cliff Pennington with open arms like I have.