by Thomas Griffenkranz
on January 12, 2009 @ 01:00:00
The Oakland Athletics recently signed first baseman/designated hitter Jason Giambi to a one-year deal with an option for 2010. Giambi, 38, returns to the Bay Area, where he played from 1995-2001, winning the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 2001. The signing of Giambi follows the earlier acquisition of outfielder Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies as general manager Billy Beane continues to rebuild an anemic offense that ranked last in the American League in 2008.
A look back at 2008
Table 1: Jason Giambi's 2008 statistics
Giambi's power numbers were solid in 2008. He was tied for 20th in the MLB in home runs and fell within the top 40 in RBIs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS).
Giambi took some time to get going in 2008, hitting just .164 through April. He turned things around in May and June batting .310 with 12 home runs. After the All-Star break Giambi struggled with a .239 average, but he managed 13 dingers and 41 RBIs during the season's second half.
Go west, old man
The move to Oakland is not without risk for Giambi. He is going to a team that scored 143 fewer runs than the Yankees in 2008, and he is not likely to have as many RBI opportunities in Oakland. In New York Giambi enjoyed a short right field porch (314 feet down the line), but he hit as many home runs on the road as he did in Yankee Stadium in 2008.
In his last three years hitting at what is now known as Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Giambi is 10-for-33 (.303) with two home runs and five RBIs. He's a career .318 hitter there with 108 dingers and 348 RBIs.
However, the A's are not getting the same version of Giambi they may remember from his first go-around with the team. He is in the twilight of his career, and his numbers are beginning to reflect that: His OPS and batting average have declined in each of the past two seasons in which he had at least 400 at-bats.
There are plenty of reasons not to like Giambi at this point: He does not hit for average anymore; his batting eye (walk-to-strikeout ratio) isn't as prominent as it used to be; he does not walk as often as he once did - and oh yeah, the whole steroids thing.
In 2008, though, he hit more big flies than many players drafted well before him, including new teammate Holliday, who had an injury-shortened season. His percentage of fly balls that left the yard (18.6) returned to the level near his career average of 19.4 percent.
Fantasy baseball outlook
Giambi should be viewed as a corner infield pick in deep mixed leagues. While his week-to-week inconsistency can be maddening, it's hard not to like his overall power numbers.
He still has plenty of power potential, but with the move from Yankee Stadium to Oakland you should not expect Giambi to hit 30 home runs with any level of confidence despite his experience at the park. He could represent solid value if selected in the late rounds of your draft and if his gold thong makes the trip west.
About Thomas Griffenkranz
Thomas has been a KFFL contributor since 2007.
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