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Building a playoffs-worthy roster between Giants, A’s

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If you had to build a playoff team from players on the Giants or A’s, would you rather have Brandon Crawford or Marcus Semian at short? (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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With the Los Angeles Dodgers storming into the National League Championship Series and the Oakland Athletics’ only postseason representation coming in the form of ex-stars like Sonny Gray, it’s been a rough October for Bay Area baseball fans.

Both the San Francisco Giants and the A’s landed in last place in 2017, but — when combined — the clubs have the makings of a playoff-worthy starting 9.

Based on 2017 performance, here’s a look at what the all-Bay Area squad would look like.

Spoiler alert: the following lineup leans heavily to the East Bay …

Catcher

The contenders: Buster Posey, Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley

Buster Posey was the unassailable pick — even if his home run (12) was down for the third time in as many seasons. The de facto captain has a rocket of an arm behind the plate and his .861 OPS was tops among qualified catchers in the National League.

1st Base

The contenders: Brandon Belt, Matt Olson, Yonder Alonso and Ryon Healy

At a position where power is at a premium, Matt Olson, who authored a 24-home run barrage in 59 games, is the winner. 

It’s worth noting that Brandon Belt, whose season was spoiled by a concussion, has never reached that output in any of his seven season at AT&T Park.

Yonder Alonso — who was an All-Star before the team jettisoned him to Seattle to clear room for Olson — and Ryon Healy, who had 25 homers while playing the corners and in the designated hitter’s spot, are also worthy of honorable mentions.

2nd Base

The contenders: Joe Panik and Jed Lowrie

Quietly, Joe Panik produced a steady (.288 AVG, .768 OPS, 10 HR) — if not spectacular — 2017. Still, it’s hard to compare to the numbers his A’s counterpart, Jed Lowrie, put up.

Lowrie displayed unexpectedly strong glove work in the field, posted an .808 OPS, set the Oakland record for doubles (49) and indefinitely suspendeded the organizational plan to pawn him off in order to hand second base to super prospect Franklin Barreto.

Shortstop

The contenders: Brandon Crawford and Marcus Semien

This was the most difficult decision on the diamond.

A family tragedy and a hamstring injury derailed Brandon Crawford’s season shortly after it began and a broken hand limited Marcus Semien to 85 games.

Neither of the local products impressed at the plate — Crawford posted a .709 OPS, Semien a mark of .722.

The tie-breaker here — a position where defense is paramount — is Crawford’s two-time Gold Glove-winning work at short. Crawford saved the Giants nine runs, while Semien cost the A’s as many, according to the calculations of Baseball Info Solutions.

3rd Base

The contenders: Eduardo Nuñez, Christian Arroyo, Pablo Sandoval and Matt Chapman

There wouldn’t be room to list all the players who took a turn at the hot corner for the Giants.

There’s no reason to either since Matt Chapman is the All-Bay third baseman.

The former first-round pick looks like a young Nolan Arenado with the glove. Per Baseball Info Solutions, Chapman saved 19 runs in the field while the Rockies defensive wizard saved 20 — despite playing nearly twice as many innings.

With the bat, Chapman had 37 extra-base hits (23 2B and 14 HR) in 84 games.

Leftfield

The contenders: Jarrett Parker, Austin Slater and Khris Davis

As was the case at third base, it would be a challenge to name all the Giants who patrolled the patch of grass in front of the Chevron car in left.

It would also be superfluous.

Khris Davis — the A’s 43-home run left fielder — is as obvious a choice here as Posey was behind the plate.

Centerfield

The contenders: Denard Span, Gorkys Hernandez, Boog Powell, Jake Smolinksi and Rajai Davis

As the above list of contenders makes abundantly apparent, center field was a pit of despair for both the A’s and the Giants.

The A’s tried nine different players in center, while the Giants trotted out six. Among that crew of 15, Denard Span saw by far the most time, playing 123 games.

He also cost the the Giants an alarming 27 runs, according to Baseball Info Solutions. Manager Bruce Bochy has already hinted that Span is headed toward a platoon role in left in 2018.

There’s no way, in good faith, to bestow “All-Bay” honors upon any of these players. For that reason, the answer here is N/A.

Rightfield

The contenders: Hunter Pence, Matt Joyce and Chad Pinder

A’s manager Bob Melvin has said he’d be good to go with a Matt Joyce-Chad Pinder platoon next season and that’s the pairing that shares this spot.

Matt Joyce emerged from a lethargic start to boom 25 home runs. Chad Pinder blossomed into a Ben Zobrist-lite, and wow’d with his arm. He also out-homered $18.5-million man Hunter Pence.

Starting Pitcher

The contenders: Madison Bumgarner, Chris Stratton, Sean Manaea, Kendall Graveman and Paul Blackburn

It speaks volumes about the starting inventories for these two teams that Madison Bumgarner — a guy who missed three months after spilling off his dirt bike — is the obvious pick.

Even with his unplanned summer hiatus, MadBum ended 2017 with a 3.32 ERA and an 8.2 strikeout-per-nine ratio — the kind of numbers that just about every manager, pitching coach and starter would be plenty happy with.

kbuscheck@sfexaminer.com

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