The loss of Mark Canha truly hurts the Oakland A’s. Not only have they lost their leadoff hitter, but they have lost a player who could be considered the best defensive left fielder in the game. His ability to play all three spots in the outfield, as well as his ability to get on base and solid power, will make him difficult to replace.
That is especially true when it comes to the leadoff spot. Canha had led off in 71 of the 72 games that he was in the lineup, leaving a void behind as he recovers. As of now, the leadoff spot is expected to rotate between Tony Kemp and Ramon Laureano, depending on who is on the mound.
Ramon Laureano should take over Oakland A’s leadoff role
It is understandable why manager Bob Melvin would want to slot Kemp as the leadoff hitter against righties. He is in the midst of a career best season, producing a .288/.410/.460 batting line in his 177 plate appearances, hitting four homers and eight doubles. Kemp has also drawn 29 walks while striking out 25 times, with his speed also helping to fit the stereotype of a leadoff hitter.
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The problem is that Kemp does not have a track record of sustained success. He has a career mark of 2.3 bWAR, 2.2 of which have come this season. It is fair to want to ride the hot bat as long as possible, but it is also fair to question whether or not this level of production will continue. Those questions, however, do not surround Laureano.
The A’s center fielder had been considered an option for the role during the offseason as the team was searching for a new leadoff hitter. He would add a different dynamic to the top of the order than Kemp, as he had produced a .258/.336/.502 batting line in his 244 plate appearances entering Saturday, hitting 13 homers and ten doubles while stealing eight bases.
Laureano would also have the potential to provide instant offense for the A’s. His respectable power is an asset anywhere in the lineup, and if he was given the green light more, he could be a 20-20 player. Slotting Laureano into the leadoff spot, at least until Canha returns, could open up another element of the lineup that had been missing.
The Oakland A’s need to find a new leadoff hitter while Mark Canha is on the shelf. Ramon Laureano should be that option going forward.