Tyler Ladendorf should make the Oakland Athletics roster


I’ve repeatedly supported the theory that spring training stats don’t matter. Don’t worry, they still don’t. Ryan Cook isn’t this bad, Barry Zito isn’t a Cy-Young caliber pitcher again, and Brett Lawrie should have a great year (if healthy).

Regardless, spring training can be used to help showcase players’ skills on a semi-larger stage. Think of camp as more of an opportunity to show examples of your talent that are supported by your track record from previous seasons.

For example, in Zito’s case, 11 shutout innings this spring doesn’t quite equal seven straight years of mediocrity. It’s pretty easy to figure out which of those samples is the outlier.

But in utilityman Tyler Ladendorf’s case, his nice spring actually matches up to what he’s been doing in the minors. Ladendorf has gotten extended playing time all over the field, and has looked great offensively and defensively. Last year, Ladendorf had a .297/.376/.407 slash line in 78 games. The shortened season was due to a suspension for recreational drug use.

While Ladendorf doesn’t bring a lot of power and speed to the table, his versatility and platoon splits are his greatest weapons. Those skills make him an ideal bench player for the Athletics.

Ladendorf has played all over the infield and outfield this spring, and has experience at all positions in the minors. He hit .395 against lefties last year, and has hit at least .296 against lefties every year since 2011.

So if Ladendorf makes the roster, whose spot is he taking?

The logical choice is probably Eric Sogard, and although I like his defense and versatility, he simply hasn’t gotten it done with the bat consistently. Ladendorf looks like he has more promise offensively, and his ability to play outfield if necessary only helps his case. Even if Ladendorf gets the spot on the opening day roster, Sogard will most likely get an opportunity to prove himself sometime during the year.

Mark Canha is a long-shot to be left off the roster since he’s a rule-5 player, but if he struggles early, Ladendorf could take his roster spot in May or June.

Ladendorf’s ideal spot on the roster is as a utility bench guy who fills in for players who are hurt or need a day off. He could also be valuable as a pinch-hitter/platoon player against lefties.

Again, his spring training performance isn’t the reason he should have a job, rather it’s just exposed his talents that he’s been showing at the minor league level.

Would you keep Ladendorf on the 25-man roster? Let me know in the comment section below!