Oakland Athletics vs. Giants Position-By-Position Breakdown: Who Wins?

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Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics /

Left Field: Khris Davis* vs. Angel Pagan

Angel Pagan is simply on the wrong side of 30. Make no mistake, when the Giants have him playing healthy, they typically win the World Series. But last year, he showed intense regression even while playing in 133 games. In 2015, he posted career lows in many categories since becoming an everyday player in 2010: his batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, stolen bases, home runs were all lower than in any season in which he played at least 123 games. He even stole more bases in 2014 ,when he played in merely 96 games.

In a comparison from 2013-2015, Khris Davis is overall the better player. Sure, Davis played in 21 more games than Pagan. But that shows that he’s healthier than the aging Pagan. In addition, he has better power: he has more total bases, 508, compared to Pagan’s 435. He has also contributed to more wins than Pagan, whose WPA (win probability added, a stat which measures the odds of a player’s impactfulness on odds of winning) was 1.9. Davis’s was 3.4. Davis is, in short, a stronger player.

Advantage: A’s

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Center Field: Billy Burns vs. Denard Span

Another classic sophomore vs. veteran story. Billy Burns placed fifth in Rookie of the Year voting last year, but Denard Span was sixth in the same category in 2008. Still, Span is similar to Pagan in that he is on the wrong side of 30, and is coming off of a hip injury, in the way that Pagan had injuries on pretty much every bone in his body. When he’s healthy, though, Span is terrific. He got MVP votes in 2014, scoring 94 times and stealing 31 bases.

Burns is a wild card as well, as it will be difficult for him to prove his good rookie year last season will lead to perennial success. What’s promising is that he will have support in center field with Mark Canha‘s ability to play the position. (Canha played center field in several games in Spring Training.) This may give Burns enough rest for him to continue contributing at a high level.

With two question marks, this position is a push for both teams.

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Right Field: Josh Reddick vs. Hunter Pence*

Even though Hunter Pence is coming off of an injury, he is by all accounts a better hitter than Josh Reddick, possessing more offensive tools than Reddick, who specializes in defense. Reddick isn’t terrible at all, but in terms of power, speed and durability, Pence easily overtakes him.

Pence was sidelined for most of the year last year, but he wants to return to playing at least 160 games every year – like he has since 2012.

Advantage: Giants

Next: A's vs. Giants: Starting Rotation