The Case For Tom Everidge

For the past several years, infielder Tom Everidge has put up impressive numbers with very little fan-fare. Nathaniel Stolz delves into Everidge's career and unearths why the Sonoma State grad should be an option for the Oakland A's in the major league right now.

Of all the players in the Oakland farm system, perhaps none combine a penchant for production with a lack of fanfare as Midland infielder Tom Everidge. The muscular slugger has consistently hit well but rarely appears on even the deepest prospect lists [Everidge ranks 49th in Scout.com's current top-50 A's prospects list]. This season he hit .333/.396/.425 in April, showing he has nothing left to prove in Double-A, yet he goes relatively unnoticed in a deep Oakland system. However, especially with the abundance of injuries hitting the upper levels of the A's organization, Everidge deserves a chance to play in the majors right now. Let's examine why I would make such a bold statement.

Everidge was drafted out of Sonoma State University with the A's 10th round pick in the 2004 draft. He wasn't particularly impressive in his pro debut, hitting .275/.333/.388, but he was playing in Vancouver, one of the toughest hitting environments in the minor leagues. Moved to Kane County in 2005, Everidge maintained his batting average while nearly doubling his Isolated Power, hitting .279/.370/.482. Furthermore, Everidge crushed left-handed pitching that season, hitting .365/.444/.765 with 10 of his 14 home runs. Unbelievably, he was actually unlucky against lefties, as his hit breakdown reveals he actually should have hit .371/.448/.771 against them. Those figures lead to a staggering 1.219 OPS. Also of note was a large improvement in his walk and strikeout rates, which improved from in 7.1% and 22.3% in 2004 to 13.0% and 17.0% in 2005.

Everidge moved up to Stockton in 2006 and began to show the over-the-fence power that would become his trademark skill. While the California League is the most hitter-friendly league in baseball, Stockton is arguably its toughest environment, and in fact, its park factor is much lower than Kane County's, which means it is more pitcher-friendly. Still, Everidge managed to hit 20 homers for the first time. However, he lost the walk-to-strikeout edge and the large platoon split from Kane County, although he did keep his strikeouts manageable for a slugger (23.0%). He finished with a line of .252/.323/.442, although he was once again unlucky; his performance should have translated to .264/.333/.458.

Despite Everidge's decent 2006, the A's had him repeat High-A in 2007. As one might expect, he improved in his second year at the level. Superficially, he only improved slightly, hitting .258/.354/.469, improving only his homers (26, up from 20) and walk rate (12.5%, up from 8.0%); however, his BABIP (.280) continued to run lower than expected. Given his ball-in-play splits, it should have been closer to .324, putting his line at .289/.380/.501. Recognizing his improvement, the A's promoted Everidge to Midland late in the year, where he hit well in 10 games, with a staggering luck-adjusted line of .394/.429/.515, a performance that translates to .324/.342/.412 in the majors.

Everidge remained with Midland for 2008, and his translated production (.290/.356/.482) looked very similar to his 2007 Stockton performance, but there was one huge difference: Everidge's gigantic platoon split reemerged, as he mashed lefties at a translated .367/.407/.731 clip. He slugged 10 of his 22 homers against southpaws en route to his third straight 20+ homer season.

Not only was this performance against lefties impressive, but it translated to .295/.328/.580 in the majors. Furthermore, Everidge began to play third base, in addition to his customary first base, late in the year and performed acceptably, proving that he is at least competent at two positions. Everidge's MLB translation against righties wasn't very good (.201/.256/.306), so he shouldn't play regularly in the majors, but against lefties he certainly is an MLB-caliber hitter.

To put his performance in perspective, Everidge's 2008 performance translates to a 908 MLB OPS against lefties, while Matt Holliday had an 896 OPS in 2008 against lefties while playing half his games at Coors Field. Everidge has immediate value as a platoon 1B/3B/DH in the majors, basically doing what Nomar Garciaparra was signed to do for Oakland.

In my opinion, Garciaparra's signing was a bad decision, as the A's spent seven figures signing a player inferior to their younger in-house option. With a number of infield injuries, the A's have turned to Eric Patterson, Jack Hannahan, Gregorio Petit, Landon Powell, and Bobby Crosby to fill in as regulars or semi-regulars. They should give Everidge a chance—Wes Helms' career is a reasonable approximation of Everidge's downside, and Helms was a useful platoon infielder for several years.

About The Author: Nathaniel Stoltz is a statistics minor at James Madison University in Virginia. He is the creator of the "Ultimate Value Index" or "UVI" baseball statistic. He hopes to some day work in the front office of a major league team. You can e-mail him with questions or comments by clicking here.

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