John Jaso’s Concussion History to Land Him at First in 2015?

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Aug 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher

John Jaso

(5) makes a throw to first against the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday night, Tigers’ catcher, Alex Avila, suffered a concussion. The concussion was his third of the season. Avila, though, said after the game that he has no plans to hang ’em up.

The past two seasons John Jaso has missed time at the end of the season due to concussion problems. This can be seen as a recurring issue, and there is a good chance that the Oakland Athletics will not let him behind the plate again.

From a player standpoint, repeated head injuries can result in long-term damage. From an organizational standpoint, Jaso is a big part of the Athletics’ lineup, with his on-base percentage ranking third on the team, even in a down year (.337 in 2014 compared to .387 in 2013 and .394 in 2012).

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Catchers are at-risk for concussions more than other players because of foul-tips that are taken off of their masks throughout the course of the season. Once in a awhile, one of those foul tips stings more than others, and leaves a player feeling dizzy 24 hours later. With the emphasis on player safety being a focal point in today’s sports, the possibility of John Jaso moving to first base may be coming.

In 2014, the A’s attempted to limit Jaso’s catching days by having him DH more, with Derek Norris getting more time behind the plate. Stephen Vogt was also brought up to limit the workload on each of these three players. In the end, injuries befell all three men, and Norris was the last one squatting, with Geovany Soto brought in (and injured) down the stretch.

The move to DH didn’t have the best results for Jaso. While catching, Jaso batted .298,with a .362 OBP. Yet, while DH-ing, Jaso hit just .208 with a .293 OBP. It would appear that Jaso needs to be involved in the game to produce at his levels, and first base could solve that issue.

Having Brandon Moss available to play both first base and left field gives the A’s extra options at both positions. Ideally, Norris and Vogt will be splitting catching duties in 2015, but there is still the possibility of bringing in another, more defensive-minded option as well.

With 2015 being Jaso’s last year before free agency, it could suit him well having another position under his belt before testing the market. Just a couple of years ago, John Jaso saw some time at first for the Seattle Mariners in a slew of Spring Training games. The position is not entirely unfamiliar to him, and on a team full of platoons, Jaso could fit right in ninety feet to the right.

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