Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: 1B/OF Mark Canha


Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Mark Canha, What “Canha” he do for the A’s?

All terrible puns aside, Mark Canha is poised to have either a breakout year or an average year. Last year was one in which Canha had to prove he belonged in the major leagues. Having done so, this year is the year in which he can prove his minor league numbers are no fluke. Let’s explore why Mark Canha was dropped by two separate teams before coming to the Oakland Athletics.

Signed by the Miami Marlins out of UC Berkeley, Mark Canha came to that organization profiling as a power hitter. After all, he plays first base and left field, two positions most clearly associated with a slugger. In late 2014, Justin Bour was selected to play first base over Canha, most likely because Bour, a left-handed hitter, would have been a better fit for the Marlins, who just came off of signing an underwhelming right-handed first baseman/left fielder in Michael Morse, and had plenty of right handed power already (case in point: Giancarlo Stanton). He was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by Colorado who promptly traded him to Oakland for a relief pitcher, Austin House. At the time, David Forst mentioned that Canha “has done everything you can do in the minor leagues. There’s nothing left to do but prove it in the big leagues.”

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Canha indeed has done so, hitting .254/.315/.426 with 16 home runs and 70 RBI, playing in 124 games last year. He provided solid defense at first base and the outfield and even played center field in spring training this year. Many fans will point to Canha as being a surprise fixture in the lineup last year.

But Canha may continue to surprise.

In the minor leagues, his hitting was readily apparent: in 2014, Canha hit at the Triple-A level to the tune of .303/.384/.505 in 127 games. He hit 20 home runs in that league. Even though he is 27 years old, he looks to be a late bloomer like Josh Donaldson and may explode with major league power this year. This is the “Canha” of worms referred to earlier: he has latent power that he showed off in the minors. Can that translate to even more big-league power?

He also hit left-handed pitchers at an OPS of .876. This is disconcerting as last year in the bigs, Canha hit for an OPS of .587 against lefties. But, this also suggests that manager Bob Melvin has faith in Canha’s ability against left-handers. In fact, he has played first base and started against lefties Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, and he will continue to get at-bats against southpaws unless Yonder Alonso can suddenly figure them out. Even then, Canha may still get at-bats in an outfield position, spelling Khris Davis, Josh Reddick, or Billy Burns against left-handers.

Next: Will 2016 Be A Repeat of 2015?

Don’t forget, Canha is still a sophomore in the big leagues

He has a high ceiling, outperforming other first basemen last year in terms of counting stats. He had more RBI and OPS than Joe Mauer and Mike Napoli, and had more hits than Logan Morrison and Pedro Alvarez. In short, Mark Canha could have a surprisingly big year. He will be expected to if the A’s want to remain in contention.

Bold Prediction: Mark Canha hits 20 home runs and 80 RBI and begins to hit in the number 2 position for the A’s.

Will Mark Canha live up to these expectations this year? Write a comment below.