Top Dog: Bobby Crosby Wins Rookie of the Year

On Monday, Oakland A's shortstop Bobby Crosby was named the American League's Rookie of the Year for 2004. Crosby won the award on the strength of an impressive offensive season and a stalwart effort on defense for the 91-win Oakland A's. Crosby led all AL rookies in homers, RBIs, hits, total bases, runs, doubles, extra-base hits and slugging percentage. He also led the AL rookies in games played and was the most significant rookie contributor on a team that competed for a playoff spot.

Bobby Crosby, 2004 Season Statistics































The A's shortstop was one vote away from capturing all of the AL votes. Crosby made it a clean sweep on the Rookie of the Year hardware. He was also named the Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year and the Major League Baseball Players Association 2004 Players Choice AL Rookie of the Year. Crosby is the fifth member of the Oakland Athletics franchise to win the AL Rookie of the Year, joining Jose Canseco (1986). Mark McGwire (1987), Walt Weiss (1988) and Ben Grieve (1998) as Oakland winners. This is the second straight season that Crosby has won his league's Rookie of the Year award. He was the Pacific Coast League Rookie of the Year in 2003.

Crosby's rookie statistics put him in some elite company. He is only the fourth rookie in either league to hit 20 or more home runs as a shortstop, joining Nomar Garciaparra, Ron Hansen and Cal Ripken Jr. In addition, Crosby moved into third place on the A's all-time rookie home run leader board behind only McGwire and Canseco. He is the fourth A's shortstop to hit more than 20 home runs in any season.

Crosby struggled with strikeouts and with left-handed pitching all season. However, the A's rookie showed a propensity to hit for power and to handle pressure situations well. Crosby also played surprisingly good defense. He had a solid .975 fielding percentage, .870 range factor, and his zone rating was a very respectable 4.96. He also turned 107 double plays, despite playing with three different double-play partners during the season. Crosby missed six games in late April after a collision with Bobby Kielty, but missed only five more games the rest of the season. He was the most reliably healthy member of the A's infield for much of the season and showed veteran's guile by playing through a myriad of nagging injuries.

Some of the highlights of Crosby's season include the following:

On April 14, Crosby hit his first major league home run, a three-run shot off of R.A. Dickey in a 9-4 A's win over Texas.

Crosby had an outstanding June. He hit .337 with a .402 OBP and a .545 SLG for a 946 OPS. On June 29, the A's were losing to the Anaheim Angels 4-3 in the 7th inning. Crosby came to the plate against Francisco Rodriguez with the bases loaded and two outs. He quickly fell behind Rodriguez 0-2. Then he stayed back on a breaking ball from K-Rod and singled to left-field, scoring two runs. The A's held on to win that game 5-4.

In Crosby's second trip to Yankee Stadium, he made an impression on the Yankee faithful. Crosby had four hits in three games, scored three runs and drove in two. He also made a number of spectacular defensive plays, drawing praise from the New York media and from former Gold Glove shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

Down the stretch, Crosby was one of the A's most clutch hitters. In September, Crosby drove in a team-high 14 runs and had some of the most dramatic RBIs for the A's that month.

On September 11, the A's were sitting on a 5-game losing streak and were losing 4-3 in the 8th inning. Crosby was hitless as he strode to the plate against Cleveland's Bobby Howry. He quickly turned Howry's offering deep into the leftfield bleachers to tie the game. Nick Swisher followed with a home run of his own, and the A's had an improbable come-from-behind victory.

Then on September 13 – in a game that would be remembered more for Frank Francisco's chair toss – Crosby would contribute three key at-bats in a tight 7-6 comeback victory for the A's. First, he hit a solo homerun in the 5th inning to give the A's a 2-1 lead. Then he hit a sacrifice fly in the 8th inning, putting the A's back on top 5-4. When the A's bullpen was unable to hold that lead, Crosby bailed them out again. He came to the plate against All-Star closer Francisco Cordero with a runner on first and second and no one out and the A's down a run. With Texas playing for the bunt and Cordero throwing heat, the A's rookie had to lay down a beauty to advance the runners. He did one better, laying down a bunt so good that Hank Blalock had to field it awkwardly, leading to a throwing error. The A's would go on to score two runs in the inning to win the game.

Crosby's September heroics did not stop there. Two days later, Crosby came to the plate against the same Texas Rangers with the A's down 4-2 and facing Kenny Rogers, who hadn't lost in the Oakland Coliseum since President Clinton's first term. Crosby doubled home all three runners and the A's went on to win the game 5-4.

In the season's final week, Crosby had two more heroic moments. On September 27, the A's were battling the Seattle Mariners. The game was tied 5-5 in the 9th inning. With runners on first and third and one out, the Mariners elected to walk Marco Scutaro to get to Crosby, who was 0-4 up until that at-bat. Crosby made the Mariners pay for that decision, hitting a hard drive to rightfield, deep enough to score the runner from third despite Ichiro's presence in right. Then on September 30, Crosby crushed a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 9th inning, catapulting the A's into a tie for first with Anaheim with three games to play.

Going into Crosby's rookie season, the team had tempered expectations for the young man. Team officials said that they hoped he would play solid defense and whatever he contributed offensively would be a bonus. Now that his first season is under his belt, Crosby will be looked to as one of the A's offensive leaders. With the expected departure of Jermaine Dye, Crosby will be arguably the A's most potent right handed bat in 2005. With Alex Rodriguez now manning third base, Crosby has a chance to be the home run leader at shortstop sometime over the next couple seasons. Whatever the future holds for Crosby, he and the A's will look back fondly on his successful rookie season.

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