Through the first decade of the 2000’s, the Oakland A’s owned the American League Rookie of the Year award, with three players earning the honor.
With the Oakland A’s budgetary issues, it is no secret that they rely upon their youth in order to contend. Those trades for prospects and their draft picks ar vitally important. One wrong deal can set the franchise back if those prospects do not develop.
During the first decade of the 2000s, the A’s were amongst the best in the game at finding those players. They produced three American League Rookies of the Year, the most of any AL team during that time frame. However, as is always the case, that success in the first year meant nothing going forward.
The first of that trio was Bobby Crosby in 2004. Ranked as the 32nd best prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the season, he did not disappoint. He produced a .239/.319/.426 batting line, hitting 34 doubles and 22 homers, with excellent range at short, en route to earning 27 out of 28 first place votes. However, the rest of his career never lived up to that promising start, as injuries hindered him throughout his playing days. Crosby would have only one more season where he played over 100 games (2008), his time in the majors done after the 2010 campaign.
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2005 saw another A’s player take home the award. This time, it was Huston Street, who was selected with the 40th overall selection of the 2004 MLB Draft. Despite just 21 games of minor league experience, he was ready for the challenge, taking over as the A’s closer in June. That year, he posted a 1.72 ERA and a 1.002 WHiP while notching 23 saves, striking out 72 batters in 78.1 innings. Street earned 15 of the 28 first place votes, and even received some votes for MVP that year.
The final Rookie of the Year for the A’s was another reliever. After Street was dealt after the 2008 season, Andrew Bailey took over as the closer. An All Star in 2009, Bailey posted a 1.84 ERA and a 0.876 WHiP while notching 26 saves, striking out 91 batters in 83.1 innings. He would earn 13 first place votes in winning the award.
While Street and Bailey were productive, both also had their careers derailed by injury. Street had managed to stay healthy long enough to notch 324 saves in a 13 year career, but Bailey only had three effective seasons. In the end, the A’s managed to get everything they could from those players, and in the case of the two closers, were able to maximize their return on the investment.
The Oakland A’s had an impressive run with rookies during the first decade of the 2000s. Hopefully, they will replicate that success in the coming decade.