Athletics Snap Judgments as Offense Rights the Ship
By Sean Davis
It’s become almost an art form, massive overreactions based on an extraordinarily small sample size are quite common these days. As the Oakland Athletics panic meter began to register a pulse after a 6 hit, 1 run performance… over the first 2 games of the season, the team has risen from the dead to salvage a split versus the ever-annoying Seattle Mariners. Now that we’ve gotten the initial anxiety that the team would never be able to hit major league pitching out of the way, we can start the season properly as the team heads off to Houston on the first road trip of 2013.
April 04, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick (16) celebrates with teammates after hitting a two run home run against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
But while we wait for the team to hit the Lone Star State for the first time, we can take the opportunity to evaluate the total package we witnessed during the opening 4 game series with the aformentioned Mariners. As I stated prior, it’s an art form, one that is only rivaled by the art of judging players based solely on their Spring Training statistics. I am not one to resist an opportunity to take part in such judgements. So forthcoming will be a few of the conclusions that can be made based on the 4 games we’ve seen the Athletics play (Please keep in mind these are not my actual opinions).
Josh Reddick will improve upon his 2012 numbers by continuing to go to the opposite field.
This particular conclusion is based primarily on this afternoon’s 8-2 victory over the Mariners. Reddick took Seattle starter Brandon Maurer very deep in the first inning, which was something very typical in 2012, but the RBI double that came in the bottom of the 6th inning was not. Reddick golfed the ball a bit, but rather than popping it up as he tried to pull it, he drove the pitch off the left-center field wall for a double. In his postgame interview he stated that he had been working all spring with Chili Davis on driving the ball the opposite way, and it is paying dividends already. This newfound ability will keep him out of the pull happy mega-slump that we all endured during the latter part of the season.
Jed Lowrie will be an All-Star shortstop in 2013.
The inspiration for this came from Ken Korach on the radio broadcast today, on the heels of another double by Lowrie, Korach praised him to the point of putting his ceiling among the league leaders in batting average among other statistics. For Lowrie the hot hitting spring has carried into the regular season and as long as he can stay healthy his production will continue at an elite level.
Nate Freiman will take away a large amount of playing time from Brandon Moss at first base.
In his first two games at the big league level, there’s no doubt that Nate Freiman has impressed. He notched an RBI single in his first at bat, dunked in another hit on a pop fly, and has hit a couple hard fly balls to the warning track, one of which drove in a run. His swing is very compact, especially for a hitter with a 6 foot 9 frame, and will help him avoid being just another Brandon Allen type hitter who can’t make consistent contact. Brandon Moss has struggled so far, with just one hit to his credit on today’s hard hit single off the wall (he was thrown out by a mile trying to stretch it into a double). If Moss doesn’t pick things up soon, Freiman may become the man at first and prove to be an absolute steal.
The pitching staff will lead the AL in walks issued.
Control hasn’t exactly been the team’s strong suit at this point. Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook were the prime suspects in this case, accounting for 10 of the team’s 15 walks thus far. Giving out free passes like this is an easy way to give out free runs as well, and if the staff does that the A’s will be destined to fail.
Eric Sogard will be a mainstay at second base.
If you look at his hitting numbers, this thought would seem ludicrous. He has just 1 hit so far. But his defense has been quite good and that will keep him in the lineup consistently against right handers. Despite the ball he let roll through his legs on Monday, Sogard has found himself all over the highlight reels on ESPN and MLB Network. His flair for the dramatic plays will only serve to keep him at second base despite his hitting limitations, but based on his spring the bat should come around as well.
Yoenis Cespedes will win the AL MVP.
While Chris Davis and Michael Morse might have an argument to make for the first half-week MVP honors, Yoenis Cespedes has made his presence felt as well. A solo homer on Tuesday provided the A’s with their first run on 2013, and a rocket to the stairs on this afternoon put an exclamation point on the A’s victory. He’ll play his typically stellar defense in left, and should play a major role in the A’s quest to repeat as AL West Champions. (While it’s way too early to make this judgment, this one is totally not that far fetched)
We’ll soon begin to get a legitimate idea of what this team is capable of in the coming weeks, some of these early trends are surely bound to change as the season continues. What looked like a gloomy start, now looks like reason for hope as the A’s take on former Athletics minor leaguer Brad Peacock and the Houston Astros tomorrow night at the Houston launching pad known as Minute Maid Park.