Chad Pinder looking to put rough 2019 behind him

After two years of solid production, Chad Pinder endured a rough 2019. There is hope that he will bounce back in 2020.

Heading into the 2019 season, Chad Pinder had established himself as an important part of the A’s lineup. He had produced two above average seasons with the bat, with a combined .248/.313/.447 batting line, including 28 homers and 27 doubles, over 642 plate appearances. Pinder had also become the A’s super utility man, appearing at every postion aside from pitcher and catcher.

The 2019 season was a disappointment offensively. While Pinder reprised his utility role, receiving a career best 370 plate appearances, he was unable to do much with the opportunity. He produced a .240/.290/.416 batting line, hitting 13 homers and 21 doubles. His OPS+ of 88 was his worst mark in the past three seasons.

However, before spring training has come to a close, Pinder had been on fire. While spring statistics do not mean much, Pinder had been on fire prior to the stoppage. He had produced a .370/.433/.593 batting line, hitting three doubles and a home run in his 27 at bats, solid numbers despite facing the equivalent of AAA level competition thus far.

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A look at his batted ball stats from 2019 show that Pinder had actually made some improvements over previous years. He decreased his strikeout rate by 2.6 points, down to 23.8%. His line drive rate actually improved over past years, increasing from 19.2% in 2017 and 2018 to 21.9% in 2019. Pinder also continued to hit the ball well, with just 16% of all balls put in play considered to be soft contact.

However, for all those improvements, it is easy to see where things went awry for Pinder in 2019. His batting average on balls in play dropped 41 points to .284 last season, a number that corresponds to a five point increase to his ground ball rate (48.8% in 2019) and a 7.7% decrease in his fly ball rate (29.3% in 2019).

This seems like an easy enough adjustment to make. Pinder needs to focus on hitting the ball in the air more, allowing those gains made in his contact rates to lead to a potential breakout. Pinder has already been a valuable member of the A’s for his defensive versatility and respectable pop, but it is possible that there is another gear for his offense.

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Chad Pinder is locked into a super utility role with the A’s. A couple of adjustments to his swing could make the progress he showed in spring training carry over to the regular season.

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