Chris Single-As-In-Can't-Take-A-Walk-To-Save-His-Life-ton The A's have
by Mike Carminati
The A's have just signed 30-year-old, non-tendored free agent Chris Singleton to a one-year contract. The AP article claims that the "Athletics shored up their outfield" in doing so, and "[t]he acquisition of Singleton allows the A's to move Terrence Long from center field to left field, which would improve their outfield defense."
This leaves me with two questions: A) Who wants Terrence Long as a corner outfielder? His OPS (on-base plus slugging) was .688 last season. Only two starting major-league left fielders were worse than that (and they were both in New York: Rondell White and Roger Cedeno). Terrence Long is somewhat better than his 2002 season for his career, but we are only talking about a three-season career. Even if he performs at his career-average .740 OPS, he would still rank third worst in baseball based on 2002.
The second question is B) Why does a team like Oakland that is built around on-base percentage sign dreck like Singleton of the .296 OPS in 2002? He walked 21 times in 466 at-bats this past season.
Besides Singleton is 30 and in his 4-year career, has seen his skills deteriorate more each season. He was a pretty good ballplayer in 1999 (.300 BA, 17 HR, 72 R & RBI, .490 Slug, .818 OPS--8% better than the adjusted league average, and 20 stolen bases and an 80% stolen-base success rate, but only a .328 OBP and 22 walks). His 2000 season was horrific with an OPS that was only 69% of the adjusted league average, a terrible number for anyone outside of Bill & Ted. He returned to slightly below average in OPS in 2001, but his stolen bases (12) and stolen-base success rate (52%) dropped of severely. With Baltimore in 2002, Singleton slid closer to his 2000 numbers with a .706 OPS (87% of the adjusted league average). His OPS was actually only better than 6 other starting major-league center fielders, one of whom was Terrence Long.
Aside from those issues, I think it was a tremendous pick-up. I mean, how often can you weaken yourself in two positions by signing one man?