Josh Reddick: Baseball’s Most Undervalued Asset

josephd10
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In 2013 I was not a fan of Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick, to say the least.

His batting line was the worst of his young career, despite walking more often and striking out less often than in his fantastic breakout 2012 campaign.

Foolishly I was coming down from the high of Reddick’s 66 extra-base hit season and allowed no room for excuses from our gold glove outfielder.

Looking at his numbers more closely I fully believe that Reddick’s .226/ .307/ .379 triple-slash line in 2013 was the result of a wrist injury, for which he missed a month early in the season and continued to plague him all year.

For this piece I am going to throw his 2013 numbers out the window.

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In 2014 we saw Reddick post career high’s in batting average (.264) , on-base percentage (.316), and wRC+ (117), and I believe he was still hampered by wrist soreness. In addition to, a knee injury caused him to miss time.

If you read my bold predictions for 2015 you’ll know I can see Reddick make a leap from quality player to all-star.

Here is what I wrote about the oft-injured slugger:

"“In the second half of 2014 Reddick finished 6th in batting average, 3rd in OPS, and 4th in isolated slugging among AL outfielders. He also cut his strikeout rate by more than half. At the prime age of 28 when the season starts, he will finish 2015 with 22 home runs, 92 RBI, and a .285/.340/.530 triple-slash line.”"

My projection for Reddick is probably too lofty to be realistic, but basically I am expecting him to continue to improve his batting eye, while restoring the power we saw in 2012.

In 2014 he dropped his strikeout rate by nearly seven percent from his 2012 mark, while walking nearly as much. His line drive rate decreased, but his ground ball and fly ball rates were consistent both years. The one odd thing is his home run per flyball rate plummeted from 14 percent in 2012 to eight percent in 2014.

That is where I believe the wrist and knee injuries affected him.

Despite Reddick’s power decrease, he was still an above-average outfielder last year at the plate, and was an elite defender.

On Friday players up for arbitration had the opportunity to come to terms with their respective teams on one-year or multi-year agreements.

Reddick and the A’s came to terms on a one-year contract worth slightly more than $4 million.

Earlier in the day Friday Nori Aoki, formerly with the American League champion Kansas City Royals, signed a one-year free agent contract with the world champion San Francisco Giants for $4.7 million.

Even earlier this offseason the Atlanta Braves signed outfielder Nick Markakis to a four-year $44 million deal.

When writers and analysts saw Aoki’s contract compared to Markakis’, it was agreed that the Giants had gotten a steal in Aoki. The two right fielders have similar numbers over the past three seasons, Aoki’s only seasons in America, and are of similar ages.

I tweeted out yesterday that if Aoki was a steal compared to Markakis, then Reddick, when compared to both, is a bank heist.

Here are the numbers I used to compare Reddick and Aoki:

Josh Reddick: 117 wRC+, 18.1 UZR 150.

Nori Aoki: 104 wRC+, 3.6 UZR 150.

Both on offense and defense Reddick is a superior player.

He swatted 12 home runs to just Aoki’s 1. But Aoki stole 17 bases to just one steal from Reddick.

The kicker is that Reddick is only 27-years old and just now entering his physical prime. Presumably the best is yet to come. Aoki, however, is 33-years old and exiting what are considered a player’s prime years. But they are both earning roughly the same salary.

The budget-strapped A’s have a bargain due to inconsistency, but I think that is all about the change. Josh Reddick will be one of baseball’s most undervalued assets.

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