Mark Canha Continues to Rake for the Oakland Athletics

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OAKLAND, CA - JULY 17: Mark Canha #20 of the Oakland Athletics is congratulated by teammates after Canha hit a solo home run against the Seattle Mariners in the bottom of the six inning at Ring Central Coliseum on July 17, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 17: Mark Canha #20 of the Oakland Athletics is congratulated by teammates after Canha hit a solo home run against the Seattle Mariners in the bottom of the six inning at Ring Central Coliseum on July 17, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Mark Canha may be one of the most overlooked hitters in the American League. But if you’ve paid attention over the past two seasons, you could not possibly make that mistake.

If someone would have told you in 2015 that Mark Canha would be holding down center field for the Oakland Athletics amidst a tighter-than-ever playoff race, you would have called them crazy.

Fast forward to August 2019, and Canha is doing just that – and more.

Canha has transformed himself from a below-average defensive first baseman into a serviceable defensive outfielder while hitting at a career-high clip.

Canha added a 3-for-3 performance on Thursday against Milwaukee that saw his OPS rise to .912, which is easily the best of his career. That also comes with playing home games at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum, making his OPS+ 139. For comparison’s sake, Alex Bregman currently owns an OPS+ of 140. And check this stat from the Athletics’ PR team:

Canha’s OPS leads the team, thanks in part to a .373 on-base percentage, which also leads the club. Canha has drawn a walk 39 times this season in just 279 plates appearances, compared to Robbie Grossman’s 41 walks in 332 plates appearances.

Canha has also already matched his career-high in home runs, having tallied 17 dingers on the season already.

Originally acquired by the Rockies after Colorado selected him from the Marlins in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, Canha has been the epitome of a “late bloomer.” Canha made his Major League debut for the A’s back in 2015 and spent time between the big leagues and AAA for the next two seasons. Since earning consistent at-bats at the start of last year, Canha has slashed .247/.346/.476 with 34 home runs and 83 RBI.

With Ramón Laureano on the shelf for a few weeks and Matt Chapman in a weird little funk, the A’s need Canha’s presence in the middle of the order as they prepare for a stretch run. The 30-year-old has been in a consistent groove since about mid-May, slashing .263/.386/.538 since May 21.

When Stephen Piscotty and Laureano return to the lineup, Canha’s at-bats may be a little harder to come by. Robbie Grossman is having the best defensive season of his career (he has not been charged with an error this season) and Khris Davis is starting to return to life, so who knows how Bob Melvin will get creative. But one thing is for sure: Mark Canha is hitting the ball well, and he could be a big factor for the green and gold come October.

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