Craig Gentry Should Bat Third. Always.


Craig Gentry is often referred to as the best fourth outfielder in the major leagues and with all of the shake up in Oakland this year, it is time for that moniker to change. Billy Beane rarely calls me for advice, although I’d be happy to share my views and crunch numbers with him, but when he does I’m going to insist that Craig Gentry be placed in left field and third in the lineup every single day of the season.

Why would I make such a crazy lineup move? Because it’s not crazy, that’s why. Craig Gentry, over his entire career, has a RH/LH average split of .264/.282. While there is a noticeable advantage to having him face left handed pitchers, a .264 average is hardly a reason to pull him out against right handed pitchers especially when you consider the highest average on the Oakland Athletics in 2014 was only .270. It’s also worth considering that Gentry has 451 at bats  versus righties and 450 versus lefties so the sample size is identical and large.

A closer look at his entire line shows that his splits in terms of OBP and SLG start to spread out considerably but all that means is that he hits singles against right handed pitchers and he strikes out more often. The point is, regardless of who’s pitching, he gets on base so put him in every single day.

There are several reasons why I’d play him third in the lineup. With the bulk of his lineup placements landing in the bottom third, the numbers would obviously suggest that Craig Gentry should be placed at the bottom but if you dig a little deeper you’ll see that his OBP jumps to .372 and his SLG to .405 the third time he faces a pitcher in a game. Placing him third would significantly increase his odds of seeing a starter three times in a game.

In terms of run production, Gentry has to rely on getting on base to drive in runs since he only has four home runs for his entire career. Against starting pitchers he has a 7% RBI rate and against relievers it is 8% but his strike out rate jumps from 14% to 21% against relievers so, with the RBI totals fairly equal, it’d make more sense to have him face the starter one more time than the reliever. Further, with two outs and runners in scoring position, Gentry has a 28% RBI rate which compares favorably to Donaldson’s 29% RBI rate in the same situation and he’ll see that more often batting third in the lineup.

Lastly, Craig Gentry has a .314 batting average at the Oakland Coliseum. While his numbers in 2014 weren’t up to his normal standards, there’s no reason to believe that the 31 year old can’t pull 2015 up a little, especially with more consistent playing time.

Sure, we need power in our lineup but, as A’s fans all too well know, guys that get on base have value and with his speed and ability to get on base he could fit well in a lineup that is, presumably, going to rely more on small ball run generation than they have in recent years.

Billy, put him in everyday in the three spot and thank me later.

Next: Need for Speed: Oakland Edition