OAKLAND - Ryon Healy's torrid September leads to legitimate speculation on whether he could enter the American League Rookie of the Year conversation.
A's manager Bob Melvin thrust his support behind his third baseman Tuesday afternoon. Healy is riding a 10-game hitting streak, and his .382 batting average in September ranks second in the American League. Overall, he's hitting .312 (third among AL rookies) with 11 home runs, 30 RBI and an .882 OPS over 60 games.
"I know he hasn't been up here a full season, but you look at the overall numbers, it's not his fault he wasn't here for a full season," Melvin said. "He certainly should be considered. He's played every day, been durable, been consistent. He's had power. I think all in all he should be considered."
Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer, 10-7 and leading AL rookie starters with a 3.03 ERA and 120 strikeouts, has long been considered a front-runner for the award, with Texas outfielder Nomar Mazara (.270, 19 HRs, 60 RBI) also meriting season-long mention.
The fact that Healy wasn't called up from the minors until the All-Star break hurts his overall cumulative numbers compared to Mazara, and his name hasn't been planted in the minds of Rookie of the Year voters for very long, if at all. But, consider that Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has burst on the scene as a contender for the award, and he didn't get called up full-time until Aug. 3, giving him less time in the big leagues than Healy.
Sanchez is hitting .327, tops among AL rookies, and is tied for second behind Mazara with 16 homers in just 41 games. He's posted a monster 1.091 OPS. If Sanchez gets love from voters despite not coming up until August, it stands to reason that Healy's late start shouldn't necessarily work against him.
"Healy's been up longer than he has, so if you're gonna consider him, then you'd have to consider Healy," Melvin said.
One factor that can't be overstated when comparing Healy and Sanchez. Sanchez is doing his damage while playing in the nation's biggest media market, for the majors' most high-profile team, and he's contributed to the Yankees hanging in the Wild Card race even after they became "sellers" at the trade deadline.
Sonny Gray threw 48 pitches off the mound and will face hitters at some point this weekend, which will help determine if he then might be ready to appear in a game. He's been sidelined since Aug. 6 with a strained forearm.
"He threw the ball real well and used all his pitches," Melvin said. "He was pretty intense in what he was doing today. High energy level."
Right-hander Henderson Alvarez underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday, but the A's didn't immediately provide details on the nature of the surgery or what his recovery time might be. Melvin had said that doctors wouldn't know until they began the procedure exactly what might have to be done.