Oakland A’s: Reflecting on their 2021 Spring Training
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Spring is the time for optimism, and I feel optimistic about some of the players on the fringe of the 26 man roster. Buddy Reed made the boldest introduction with dazzling defensive highlights and aggressive baserunning. Sadly, he won’t be on the Oakland A’s Opening Day roster due to injury.
Jed Lowrie getting starts as second will allow the other second base options, Tony Kemp and Chad Pinder, to maximize their versatility. Both players have experience playing infield and outfield, and if one of the two doesn’t have to start, Bob Melvin potentially has his most malleable roster yet. Kemp and Pinder complement the roster in other ways as bench bats. Kemp bats left-handed and Pinder bats right, which allows for multiple platoon possibilities across the diamond. Kemp and Pinder are also athletic, and both can be used as a pinch-runner or a defensive replacement if a situation calls for one.
The one position Pinder can’t back up is catcher, but the catching depth has also looked promising. Newly acquired Aramis Garcia had the most plate appearance out of all the catching options, and he made the most of them. Garcia slashed .384/.485/.500, earning the backup catcher role behind Sean Murphy. It’s generally wise not to put much stock into spring training numbers. That said, a competent backup catcher is a valuable thing to have on the team, and Garcia has earned the attention with his performance.
The most feel-good performance of the spring came from Kai’ai Tom. Tom was acquired by the A’s in the Rule 5 draft, the same avenue that Mark Canha and Viamel Machin took to Oakland. If there were any questions about Tom’s ability to crack a major league roster, he answered them. The 27-year rookie played good defense at each outfield position, hit .321, and had almost half of his hits were of the extra-base variety. While the Oakland A’s outfield has a lot of talent, Tom bats left-handed and can provide pinch-hit at-bats, much-needed rest for Canha and Laureano, and if he continues to produce, he might even find himself in a platoon role.