Oakland A’s: What is Going On at Second Base?
The Oakland A’s acquired Tony Kemp before the 2020 season as a potential answer to the 2nd base question.
In many ways, he’s the opposite of Pinder. Kemp bats left-handed, Pinder bats right. Kemp has very little power but an excellent plate approach. Pinder has great power but little plate discipline. His lack of pop will always limit kemp’s ceiling, but he has an uncanny ability to command the zone without having the power to threaten pitchers. Kemp’s eye and plate approach have always been an asset, but it reached a new height in 2020 when the second baseman walked more than he struck out. The sample size was tiny, with only 114 plate appearances, but the grittiness was apparent in Kemps at-bats last season.
At the start of the season, I think the most likely scenario will be a Kemp/Pinder platoon at second. This pair has the potential to make this more interesting than your standard lefty/righty platoon because of how vastly different their skills are. If the A’s face an opponent’s lefty ace that will feast on Pinder’s swing and miss tendencies, maybe Kemp gets the start over him. If there is a soft-tossing, strike-throwing righty on the mound, perhaps Pinder’s power is too valuable to leave out of the lineup.
I’ll briefly mention Vimael Machin as a potential candidate, who had an underwhelming rookie season with the Oakland A’s. Perhaps, his skills develop more, but with his rule five protection ending, I would guess that Machin starts the year low on the depth chart or on the Las Vegas Aviators’ roster. There is one more internal option which is perhaps the most interesting of them all.