Oakland Athletics’ Slugger Mark Canha Is Leaving a Good Impression
Oakland Athletics’ rookie Mark Canha has given the team every reason to believe he’s only going to get better as he heads into next season. Canha has had a strong second half, and he’s closing out the season with a very good case for why he belongs in the starting lineup next Opening Day.
When a team drafts a Rule 5 player, there’s no guarantee that they’ll stick. Rule 5 draftees must remain on the major league roster for the entire season, they can’t be stashed on the disabled list, and they’re often fairly unprepared to face major league players. There’s typically a reason that their original team left them unprotected in the draft in the first place.
In August, Canha has had 80 plate appearances – the most of any month this season. He’s batting .325/.350/.532 in the month, which feeds into his .270/.311/.430 line in the second half. For a player with no prior major league experience, that’s a great sign. He hit well during the first month of the season, then struggled when pitchers made adjustments, but he’s managed to make his own adjustments in return.
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With Ike Davis on the disabled list, Canha has been receiving regular playing time. This could also be another factor in his recent success. Sometimes, young players have trouble when they aren’t seeing pitches consistently, which was certainly a problem for Canha earlier in the year.
Canha’s .390 August BABIP shows that he can’t sustain the numbers he’s put up in August. He’s getting lucky, to some extent, compared to earlier months. However, there’s no reason to think he’s going to regress to the point where he can’t help the team next season.
Although the Athletics would have to pay Ike Davis a considerable amount of money to retain him in arbitration next season, going with Canha as the everyday first baseman instead would be a risky gamble. The better choice is to continue to work with him as a left fielder, taking at-bats away from Josh Reddick against lefties, and eliminating Sam Fuld as an outfielder altogether. Canha is better against left-handers than he has shown this year – his splits are atrocious due to his overall performance in the mid-season months. Fuld has not earned a roster spot on the team next season, and the A’s would be wise to cut ties with him over the winter.
Canha’s power can certainly help the team, and as he gets more experience at the major league level, his plate discipline is likely to improve. His success in August has largely come from being aggressive, which has decreased his walk rate, but it may be the best strategy for a slugger like Canha. Using him behind Billy Burns in the batting order is the best possible role for him at this moment, because it gives him a consistent baserunner without all the added pressure of batting cleanup.
As a Rule 5 pick, it’s important to remember that Canha wasn’t deemed ready for the majors by the Marlins. He was thrust into this role, and he’s exceeded expectations just by making it to the end of the season. The caveat, of course, is that the A’s could afford to let him grow and develop on their big league club because they were out of the race so early, but he’s still done far more than the Marlins believed he was capable of. Because of his success, Canha has earned a spot on the Opening Day roster next season.