We’re about a week into spring training games and despite their complete meaninglessness, there is much that we can learn from them.
The biggest factor so far is that the offense is not in as much trouble as some may have thought when Beane did away with a good chunk of the team’s offensive producers during the off season. With seven games under their belt in spring training thus far, the Oakland Athletics rank third among American League teams in runs, first in hits, first in doubles, first in triples, second in walks, second in team batting average and OBP and third in slugging.
Of course, we take this all with a grain of salt. If the season started today, the A’s would be 0-0 with 162 left to play but for the sake of analysis, we can say that this offense isn’t going to sit around and make the pitchers do all of the work.
Speaking of pitchers, we’ve seen some mixed results in spring training so far. On the whole, the A’s are ranked eighth in ERA but they are ranked fourth in opponent batting average, seventh in walks allowed and twelfth in home runs allowed. As spring training rolls along we can expect that the ERA will level out and, if they can continue with their low walk and home run rates, probably drop a bit.
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Are there areas of worry? Maybe a little but if we’re going to excuse greatness with “small sample size” and “it’s only spring training” we have to excuse weakness with the same caveat. Tyler Ladendorf, in 16 at bats, has five hits, three RBI’s and a stolen base but he also has five strike outs. Mark Canha, who many of us have a bit of optimism towards, leads the team in strike outs with seven but also has four runs, four hits and a homer in his 16 at bats.
There are some injury issues that should concern A’s fans more than the stats. Josh Reddick, who finds himself on the DL far too frequently, will likely miss the opening day roster and Coco Crisp, who was moved to left field in an attempt to keep him healthy, is day to day. These “little things” can add up over the course of the season if they continue beyond spring training. Reddick is batting 1.000 from his first game, going three for three, but the excitement that he’s returning to his 2012 ability is quickly squashed when he’s hurt almost immediately. Crisp, on the other hand, is batting .000 in four at bats (over three games) with two strike outs on his stat sheet. Crisp, of all people, needs as much spring training as he can get so he can find his swing, manage his neck injury from last year and establish himself as the number 1 hitter, if that’s still the plan at this point.
We still have a few weeks of games left to play and the stat sheet at the end of spring training won’t resemble the stat sheet after 162 “count for something” games but one week in has provided a level of optimism for A’s fans, particularly in the depth that the organization now has when Coco or Reddick inevitably go down during the season this year.