Jul 14, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics Chris Young (25) looks to the dugout before stepping up to the plate ahead of Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway (20) during the eleventh inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
When the A’s acquired outfielder Chris Young, the depth the team was acquiring by bringing Young to Oakland was impressive. The A’s were projected to have five players capable of being everyday starting outfielders. That kind of depth is extremely uncommon in the majors, especially for a team like the small-market A’s.
While a liability sometimes at the plate due to his swing-and-miss nature, Young was still seen as a valuable part of Oakland’s team entering the season. But with the team now battling to keep sole possession of first-place, something they’ve had control of since July 2, it is becoming ever apparent that Young hasn’t really fit in Oakland.
Platooning positions is clearly Oakland’s thing, but not playing everyday has certainly changed the way Young approaches the game. In his first year with Oakland, the free-swinging Young has seen his strikeout rate go up from 21.8% to 24.8% this year. He is also hitting just .193/.273/.379 with 9 HR and 30 RBI in 72 games this year.
He hasn’t had much success against anybody this year, hitting just .175 against left-handers and .207 against right-handers. For the platooning A’s, those splits are not encouraging. It is difficult to transition from an everyday player to a player who comes off the bench, but I’d argue that even the A’s couldn’t have imagined it’d be this bad for Young.
Due to its level of depth, Oakland’s outfield was considered to be among one of baseball’s best. While the A’s certainly do boast plenty of depth, the production from their core players has been rather inconsistent this year.
With their starters struggling, namely Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, it’s important for a guy like Young to find a way to produce when his name is featured on Bob Melvin‘s lineup card. Inconsistency has been a central theme this year for the A’s and Young certainly falls victim to the same theme.
Melvin is an expert when it comes to mixing-and-matching his lineup cards, but even with Melvin’s magic touch, Young has looked out of place for much of the year. If the A’s can start to get more production from Young, Smith, and a few of their other supporting cast, the team’s offense would be greatly improved.