Oakland A’s: Remembering George Kottaras’ power surge

Former Oakland A’s catcher George Kottaras turns 37 years old today. His time with the A’s was brief, but eventful.

At the time, the Oakland A’s decision to acquire George Kottaras barely made a ripple in the baseball world. Kottaras had been a career backup catcher, spending time in the Padres, Red Sox and Brewers organizations before coming to Oakland. In fact, the player the A’s sent to Milwaukee for Kottaras, Fautino De Los Santos, never appeared in a major league game with the organization.

It was also viewed as a trade of necessity. The A’s had made the surprising decision to deal starter Kurt Suzuki, handing the starting role to Derek Norris. However, Norris struggled with the newfound responsibility, batting under .200. Meanwhile, Kottaras continued doing what he normally did, which was to have an excellent glove behind the plate and hit for some pop.

Kottaras did exactly what he was brought in to do. His .212/.280/.471 batting line may not have been particularly exciting, but he did have a 106 OPS+ during his time in Oakland. Kottaras also hit six homers in his 93 plate appearances, a power surge that the A’s needed.

That power surge was particularly notable against a former team. The Red Sox in 2012 were a trainwreck, playing out the season seemingly without hope for better days. In the A’s 20-2 beatdown on August 31, he belted two homers and drove in five runs. Given his pop, and solid defense, it seemed likely that Kottaras had found himself a home.

Instead, the A’s made the relatively surprising decision to place Kottaras on waivers in January. He was snapped up by the Royals, a veteran backup in case Salvador Perez failed to become the player Kansas City hoped for. As Perez blossomed, Kottaras received little playing time, with just 124 plate appearances.

Purchased by the Cubs during the offseason, Kottaras began hopping from organization to organization. He had just 18 games in the majors in 2014, but was a part of the Cubs, Indians, Cardinals, and Blue Jays organizations. He did not return to the majors after that year, but spent time in the White Sox, Blue Jays again, Giants, and Braves minor league system. Finally, after appearing in just 41 games in 2016, Kottaras retired.

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George Kottaras had a relatively forgettable major league career. But for a time with the Oakland A’s, Kottaras was exactly what they needed behind the plate.

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