If you were asked who had the highest batting average on the Oakland Athletics going into the game against Detroit yesterday, who would you say? Inge? Reddick? Gomes?
You’d be wrong if you guessed any of those guys.
Coming into last night’s game against the Tigers, Kila Ka’aihue was batting .283, the highest on the team. He was also tied for fifth in hits and fourth in doubles.
Kila has been dominant in his last few outings. In fact, six of his last eight hits have been for extra bases: five doubles and a home run. Not bad for a player who has to split time, literally 50-50, with Daric Barton—so his time to shine is really limited.
Where Did Kila Come from?
Kila Ka’aihue was traded to the A’s from the Royals for Oakland pitching prospect RHP Phillip Hollingsworth. Ka’aihue was a pet project with the Royals. He'd been with the organization since 2005, and he won numerous awards in the minors. He also made the Pacific Coast League All Stars in 2010.
That year, he hit for .322 and launched 24 homers in only 323 at-bats. That’s a home run every 13 at-bats.
So, why did the Royals get rid of him?
Kila started the 2011 season as the club’s regular first baseman, but he batted just .195 with two homers and six RBI in 23 games. The Royals had Eric Hosmer on deck to take Kilas’ spot, and they felt like they did the best thing, as Hosmer ended the 2011 season batting .293 with 19 homers. He also finished third in Rookie of the Year voting behind Jeremy Hellickson and Mark Trumbo.
Where can Kila Ka’aihue go?
Kila is in a very unique position right now.
He’s hitting like a beast in a limited role on the field. His future is definitely in his hands.
With Coco Crisp returning and Manny coming off the suspension, Kila has to keep hitting in order to solidify himself as part of the team. He also has to battle off other players (Sogard, Cowgill) who want to get a spot on the roster and not be placed back in the minors.
The A’s would be hard-pressed to instantly demote Ka’aihue once Manny and Coco come back. How could they? Kila has 21 hits (sixth on the team) and seven doubles (tied for second on team).
However, with pressure from fans and the accountants who will want the A’s to use what they paid for, Kila is in a very tough position. He has to perform at the level he is at for the next month in order to be taken seriously as a full-time player.
Still, the future is bright for Kila Ka’aihue. He just has to keep connecting and keep himself on the radar of the team and management. In fact, the name “Ka’aihue” means “someone who is taken secretly.”
Kila has to shine like he has been and let the secret out—he’s a steal of a DH/1B and deserves a full-time position.