Since Billy Beane took over the A’s in Dec. 1997, his affinity for drafting shortstops early in the draft has been evident. He may have finally found his shortstop of the future in Logan Davidson.
With the Oakland Athletics winning 97 games in 2018, they set themselves up for their latest first-round draft pick in team history at No. 29 in Monday’s MLB Draft (excluding supplemental picks).
After taking a chance on future NFL No. 1 pick Kyler Murray with the ninth pick last year, they unsurprisingly went with a consistent, reliable player this Draft, that being Junior Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson.
Also unsurprisingly, Davidson is the latest in a long line of shortstops taken by Billy Beane in the first round, the 10th such player since his tenure began in 1997.
That trend began with Bobby Crosby in 2001, who become the best and most reliable A’s shortstop since post-Miguel Tejada the A’s have had. Crosby was named the AL Rookie of the Year in 2004, and over seven seasons in Oakland played 677 games, hitting .238 with 61 HR, 263 RBIs and 320 runs and posting a .683 OPS and a 6.8 WAR. After his 2004 season, Crosby only played 100 games for the A’s one time – 145 games in 2008 – and departed after the 2009 season.
Besides Crosby, only one other shortstop the A’s drafted in the first round has made it to the majors: Cliff Pennington, who the A’s took 21st in 2005. Pennington played 525 games for Oakland over five season, batting .249 with 212 runs and 78 errors, including a 25-error 2010.
The other eight shortstops – John McCurdy (2002), Omar Quintanilla (2003), Grant Green (2009), Addison Russell (2012), Daniel Robertson (2012), Richie Martin (2015) and Kevin Merrell (2017) – have combined to play five games for the A’s, all coming from Green before he was shipped off to the Angels.
Russell, who was at one time tabbed as a future A’s centerpiece, was traded to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in Beane’s biggest all-in season in 2014, before helping the Cubs to the 2016 World Series (Russell has since been embroiled in controversy over domestic violence claims, accepting a 40-game suspension to begin this season). Kevin Merrell is still in the minors, hitting .235 right now for the Midland Rockhounds and a still a fair distance away from sniffing the majors. All other draft picks have either been traded with little success elsewhere or have been stuck in the minor leagues.
Davidson, however, represents a consistent prospect (at least in college, not as much in wood-bat summer leagues), playing in at least 61 games each of his three seasons at Clemson, and batting no lower than .286. Over his three years, Davidson scored 171 runs, hit 42 HRs, drove in 142 runs, drew 130 walks, struck out 182 times and stole 37 bases. On defense, after committing 22 errors in his 2017 freshman season, the Clemson product from North Carolina has committed only 17 errors the last two years.
In 2019, Davidson hit .291 with a 15 home runs, 18 doubles, and career-highs in RBIs (55), triples (two), slugging percentage (.574), walks (45), on-base percentage (.412), stolen bases (17) while posting a career-low in at-bats (237).
His struggles have come in the Cape Cod summer league, where he has posted only a .570 OPS with wood bats against higher-level competition.
Luckily, with Marcus Semien playing at an all-star level, the A’s have their shortstop of the present, but Davidson still may be their man for the future.