Oakland Athletics: Five Biggest Surprises of Spring Training
Surprise 3: The Defense
The Oakland Athletics have shown a lack of defensive prowess this spring, and that’s been a bit of a shock. Yes, the A’s had their struggles in the field during the 2015 season, but that was why the team brought on Ron Washington as a coach. The infielders have been taking extra practice throughout camp, and working on their fundamentals, so it seems like they should be showing improvement.
Yet, the Athletics have amassed 42 errors this spring. The Chicago Cubs are next on the list, and they only have 36. That’s a pretty big drop from 29th place to last place, and it should have fans worried about how much worse the A’s were at fielding compared to everyone else.
Spring Training is a little hard to judge, because so many minor leaguers are in camp, but it’s not as though the Athletics are the only team dealing with inexperienced defenders. Their defensive efficiency rating is only a little less grim – they’re ranked 27th overall rather than last, and they beat out the Giants and Padres. (Coincidentally, only the Giants and Padres had worse Cactus League records than the A’s.)
There are a lot of new faces on the infield, and pro-defender Eric Sogard is slated to start the season on the disabled list. Can Jed Lowrie, Marcus Semien and Danny Valencia hold the infield defense together? If nothing else, Spring Training has been eye-opening in terms of the work that still needs to be done in the field. Semien took the brunt of the criticism last year, after beginning the season with a shocking amount of errors, but there’s an unexpected amount of players to spread the blame to for the A’s shoddy defensive play in camp.
Next: Surprise 4: A Stellar Performance From a Rookie Reliever