Spring Training is less than a month away! Let us keep you company until the first pitcher-and-catcher workouts on Feb. 18 with a team-by-team countdown of reasons to get excited for the 2016 MLB season. Yesterday: The Philadelphia Phillies Today: The Oakland Athletics.
Here's a simple reason to look forward to the A's in 2016: They have the best names. Most teams have one or two players on their rosters with really great names: The Giants have Angel Pagan, the Yankees have Greg Bird and Didi Gregorious. But in 2015, the A's had at least five players who'd rank among the top 10 percent on a highly scientific ranking of all Major League monikers -- and they added even more this offseason.
At least four new acquisitions prove that Oakland is trying not only to improve on the field, but also to monopolize the market on the sport's best names. Let's take a look.
Members of the 2015 A's:
If the field of meteorology coalesced into a single human being, and that human being played professional baseball, he would be named Sonny Gray -- the pitcher with the name for any forecast.
"Billy Burns" would be a great name for anyone. It has that delightful "ee" sound at the end of the first name, and the intimidating surname that wouldn't be out of place in professional wrestling. But when you consider Burns is also a player who breaks 20 mph to make diving catches, the name is just perfect.
Thanks to the films starring Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy, "Doolittle" is an amusing last name in its own right. But it becomes even more delightful when you realize it makes the relief pitcher's name into a complete sentence. As in: Sean, do little. Good thing he doesn't listen to that.
Along with Cubs' pitcher Justin Grimm , Graveman is one of MLB's players who wouldn't be out of place in a Disney Channel Halloween special.
I mean, "Coco Crisp" is probably the greatest MLB player name of all time, right?
The new additions:
The A's netted Rzepczynski in the deal that sent Drew Pomeranz and Jose Torres to San Diego, and, well, just look at that last name. Two Z's! A "ynski"! They don't call Marc "Scrabble" for nothing -- if his name were an eligible word, it'd be worth a hefty 40 points. Though, we should point out, there's technically only one Z-tile in the actual game.
There's a long tradition of Cuban "Y" names, but Yonder -- who came to Oakland in the same deal as Rzepczynski -- might have the best of the bunch. Or at least the most Shakespearian.
Wendelken, who the A's received along with Zack Erwin in return for Brett Lawrie, hasn't pitched in the Majors -- it's unclear if he'll start 2016 with the A's or in the Minors -- but he's on the 40-man roster, and we couldn't leave him off. Saying that surname is too delightful, especially when you consider the A's already have Joey Wendle.
As a general rule, names ending in "bo" are great. Names that double as slang for absurdly expensive sports cars, even moreso. Clearly the A's were following such logic when they added Lambo off waivers from the Pirates.