Athletics Playoff Roster Battles: First Base/Right Field
By Sean Davis
The beauty (or horror depending on your perspective) of September baseball is the nearly unlimited depth you can build up for the stretch run. The expanded rosters makes for crowded dugouts, bullpens, and clubhouses, but also gives managers a wealth of resources to micromanage games if they so choose. We all know Bob Melvin loves his platoons, and there has been no better example of his affinity for mixing and matching than at first base.
Aug 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Oakland Athletics first baseman Nate Freiman (7) receives congratulations from teammates after scoring in the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
For much of the season the platoon at first base has been exclusively Brandon Moss versus right handers, and Nate Freiman against left handers. It has worked quite nicely for the A’s. An injury to right fielder Josh Reddick opened the door for another player to enter the fray, and he has produced, and thus has thrown a wrench into the entire plan. Daric Barton was thought to be done with the Athletics a couple times this year after being designated for assignment, but he managed to stick with the organization. Barton came back with an entirely new approach, a more aggressive approach, and he just may have earned himself a spot on the playoff roster for the Athletics.
Of course, if Barton is in, then someone has to be out. The immediate candidates to be left off the roster would have to be Freiman, and Reddick himself. Freiman has been dealing with an abdominal strain as of late, and has been taking some swings, but his injury could make the decision for Bob Melvin as to how to get Barton on the roster. But, the ALDS doesn’t begin for another week, so say Freiman is good to go, does he still get left off?
There’s one school of thought that believes the A’s are as good defensively with Barton at first base and Moss in right field as they are with Moss at first and Reddick in right. Reddick is probably the best defensive player of the lot, with Barton just behind him, but with his offensive struggles this year the question remains whether that’s enough to warrant continued playing time. At the beginning of the season, most people would have thought that if the A’s were the AL West champs for the second year in a row, it would have been because of Reddick, not in spite of him.
I have not been a big supporter of Reddick over the last calendar year, but there is no denying the impact his defense has on the team. I believe that, and a little benefit of the doubt will get him on the roster. Unfortunately that will likely mean Nate Freiman will be a spectator for at least the ALDS.