In a league where the home run has become the most efficient form of scoring runs, defensive play in baseball has lost some of its luster.
While web gems always make for a nice addition to the summertime highlight reels, elite defensive players continue to be valued lower than those who present a stronger offensive presence.
The A's, however, feature some of the best defense MLB has to offer. In addition to finishing tied for third as a team in fielding percentage (.987), first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman won Gold Glove awards, Chapman's second-consecutive time receiving the honor.
Looking to the minor leagues, MLB.com's Mike Rosenbaum put together a list of the top fielding prospects from each position, primarily based on an executive poll from all 30 MLB teams. Oakland was well-represented, with two of its younger players being named in catcher Sean Murphy and shortstop Nick Allen.
Murphy, the A's No. 3 prospect (MLB.com), made the list despite playing just 53 games this past season. Rosenbaum noted that Murphy registered two of the hardest-thrown balls on base-stealing attempts, including one at 87.4-mph that would have ranked fourth-best in MLB.
Allen, meanwhile, was noted by Rosenbaum to have been "perhaps the best defensive player in the 2017 Draft." Allen is listed as Oakland's No. 6 prospect by MLB.com.
"Yeah, I call him the magic man," Stockton Ports manager Webster Garrison said about Allen (h/t The Athletic). "I mean, it's fun to watch him play. Good hands, strong arm, lots of range out there and he positions himself."
Not only are the A's already a great defensive team, but there are more elite gloves coming up through Oakland's farm system.
The future is looking bright for manager Bob Melvin and Co.
MLB execs view A's Sean Murphy, Nick Allen as top defensive prospects originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area