It is no secret that the Oakland Athletics miss having Coco Crisp in the lineup. With expectations set for late May on his return, the A’s have managed to survive and, to an extent, thrive with his temporary replacement, Sam Fuld.
Sam Fuld quickly became a fan favorite in the 2014 season with his acrobatic throws from the outfield, his positive attitude and his speed but he failed to make a big impression with his bat during his two stints with Oakland. The 2015 Sam Fuld, however, is new and improved and ready to show A’s fans that he is the rightful lead off hitter for this team and, if he can keep it up, may make it tough for Bob Melvin to place Coco back in the one spot upon his return.
So what is Sam Fuld doing that is causing all of this hoopla? First, let’s compare his 2014 season with the A’s (remember that it was split up by some time in Minnesota) with what he’s done nine games into 2015.
In 2014, Sam Fuld was batting .205 for the Oakland Athletics in 207 plate appearances. So far, in the first week of 2015, he is hitting a healthy .375 which also makes him one of the hottest hitters on the team right now. Now, before you flood me with “batting average is a stupid stat” and “it has only been a week” let’s take a look at the history of 2014 and see that after 7 games (that’s how many he played before moving to the Twins) he was at a .200 mark. Seven games into 2015, he was sitting at .357. Regardless of your thoughts on the batting average stat, this is the mark of an improved hitter. Need more proof?
In 2014, Fuld had an OBP of .274 with Oakland and is currently showing a .429 OBP and has an OPS over 1. Further, he’s already half way to matching his 2014 triples total and a quarter of the way to matching his doubles with 367 fewer plate appearances. He’s also taken his K% down from 15% to 5% and bumped his BB% up to 9% from 5% in 2014. He hasn’t stolen any bases yet but with half of his hits being for extra bases, the opportunity hasn’t always been ripe for the picking.
The long and short of it is simple. Sam Fuld is showing more promise in the first 9 games of 2015 than he ever showed in 2014 and is, in many ways, is having a better first week than Coco Crisp did last year. In almost identical plate appearances, Sam Fuld has more doubles (4/0), triples (2/1), runs (8/6), and fewer strike outs (2/7) than Coco Crisp did in 2014. In fact, if you extrapolate the stats to a “per 162” extreme, Fuld’s pace through 9 game beats Crisp’s pace in every offensive category except stolen bases.
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Is Sam Fuld better than Coco Crisp? That remains to be seen. He does not have the career consistency to back up any claims of that nature but, without question, he is starting 2015 with the type of numbers a team would want to see from their lead off hitter and his defense is nothing to complain about, either. Regardless of what happens when Coco comes back, Fuld is clearly going to make the most of his time in the one spot and will make it difficult for Melvin to move him when that day comes.