Mark Canha was set to his role change in 2021. The Oakland A’s had primarily used him in a utility role, slotting him in either corner outfield spot or sending him to first to give Matt Olson the occasional day off. Instead, he was ticketed to a more set role, as the A’s primary left fielder.
Not only was Canha going to have a more permanent place defensively, but he was going to slot into a different place in the lineup. Canha had hit in the leadoff spot in just nine games in his career, getting only one start at that place in the lineup. With Marcus Semien having defected to the Blue Jays, that was now Canha’s spot. 2021 was going to be a year of adjustments.
Mark Canha thriving in new roles for Oakland A’s
So far, so good with those changes. He had been rated as the third best left fielder in the game by MLB Network prior to 2021 season, as they cited his walk rate, ability to make contact, and overall value. His solid defense and ability to slot anywhere in the outfield only served to help his cause.
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Canha has embraced the leadoff role with aplomb, leading the majors with 23 runs and having been hit by a pitch six times. Entering Wednesday’s action, he had posted a .250/.394/.417 batting line with three doubles and three homers. His four steals are already the second most of his career, and he has drawn 14 walks while striking out just 23 times.
He has fared well defensively as well. Although Canha has still made the occasional appearance in center and right, the vast majority of his action has come in left, as had been expected. In his 16 games, he is credited with having saved three runs, the third most of any American League left fielder thus far in 2021.
It is entirely possible that Canha will get even better. He may still be acclimating himself to an every day role with the A’s, as well as the difference in approach that is required for the top of the lineup. If that is the case, the A’s already formidable weapon in the leadoff spot could become even better.
Mark Canha is thriving in his new role with the Oakland A’s. His insertion into the leadoff role and as the starting left fielder was what they needed.