Start Thinking of Coco Crisp as an Oakland Athletics Legend

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I thought I would never get over the Cliff Pennington trade.

He had hustle, he had speed, and he could field a mean shortstop. Not to mention his awesome name. But Pennington’s name is just another name in a long list of my favorite A’s to be traded.

Ryan Sweeney, Brett Anderson, Josh Donaldson, and Pennington. All gone.

Donaldson was the only premier player in that list, and his trade is justified in my mind. Sweeney was a throw-in. Anderson netted another quality arm. But Pennington brought in Chris Young, who only made contact in Minute Maid Park.

The season Jed Lowrie had following Pennington’s departure eased the pain a little. But not much.

Despite all the outrage from fans when Beane makes a move, there is one player who I believe would be the last straw: Coco Crisp.

Jun 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp (4) makes a leaping catch against the Chicago White Sox during the seventh inning at US Cellular Field. The White Sox won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

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In an unprecedented move in 2010, Beane signed Crisp, a player entering his age 30 season. He was coming off his worst major league season, in which he only played 49 games. He hit .228 with just 3 home runs and 13 stolen bases.

His first season in Oakland lasted just 75 games. But he was good for 3.4 WAR due to his .279/.342/.438 triple-slash line, 32 stolen bases, and above average defense in center field.

In the four years since, he hasn’t played less than 120 games. He stole 49 bases in 2011 and 39 in 2012. His 2013 was his career’s best year. He swatted 22 home runs, drove in 66 runs and scored 93, stole 21 bases in 26 tries, and managed to place 15th in the American league MVP voting.

Oh, and in 2013 his fielding percentage in center field was a perfect 1.000, but his 919 innings there weren’t enough to qualify for a gold glove.

Instead of dealing out contracts to free agents and extensions to our all-stars, Beane decided to keep Crisp around long term. He is signed through 2017.

Which is a great thing.

His leadership, team-oriented attitude, walk-off hits, and overall charisma endeared him to Athletics fans everywhere.

It’s time we start thinking of Coco Crisp as an Oakland Athletics legend.

He has never been a mammoth slugger like a Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, or Jason Giambi. But what he does well, he has done really well.

In just five years with the team he has built a tremendous resume.

He does not have any hall-of-fame credentials, so to compare him with other Oakland legends would be unfair.

 But I think it’s time we start thinking of Coco Crisp with similar fondness as we do Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Miguel Tejada, and Giambi, who each have their own place in Athletics history.

Jun 30, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp (4) runs to third base against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

He has been the most important player on the best A’s teams we’ve seen in over a decade.

He often sports an afro. He brought the Bernie Lean to relevance. And he makes catches like this one.

His body and age are beginning to limit his time and ability of the field, and he could be relegated to bench or platoon duty next season. That doesn’t deny the fact that the 2012 season does not happen without him.

Many players deserve credit for turning the team around, but Coco has to receive the majority of it.

I think he is undoubtedly the face of the franchise. Why can’t he be an all-time great?

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