Josh Reddick: 5 Reasons A's Outfielder Is Thriving in His New Environment
Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane, infamous for his wheeling and dealing front office habits, made another seemingly brazen move in the offseason by sending All-Star closer Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox in a deal centered around the largely unproven 25-year-old outfielder Josh Reddick.
Many saw the move as an early indicator that the A’s were entering a rebuilding phase in 2012 as the franchise awaits the announcement of the location of their new ballpark.
However, Reddick and the A’s have exceeded expectations so far this season. Oakland appears to be an outside threat to snag the American League’s Wild Card berths, and Reddick looks like he’s en route to his first career All-Star selection.
Reddick leads the Athletics in almost every major stat category, including home runs (11) and batting average (.270) and appears to be one of the most able-bodied persons on the roster, one that includes much heralded rookie outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Reddick has already doubled his career home run total through 41 games this season, and is on pace to shatter just about every other personal career milestone.
The A’s knew Reddick had talent, but his production this season has to come as a bit of a pleasant surprise. Transitioning from the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway Park to the spacious Oakland Coliseum typically guts a hitter’s efficiency, but Reddick appears to be unfazed by the challenge.
How has he managed to produce so effectively in his first season in the Bay?
Here are a few possible reasons why.
Shift Away from the AL East
Reddick won't have to see guys like CC Sabathia as often playing in the AL West.
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The AL East is one of the most, if not the most, talent-laden divisions in baseball, and it can only benefit Reddick moving away from the most challenging division in baseball.
While he’ll have to play the majority of his games in pitchers' parks in Oakland, Seattle and Anaheim, he isn’t always on the edge of his seat under scrutinized pressure like he was in Boston.
In a four-team division like the West, there is greater margin for error along the team's route to success, which offers a little breathing room for Reddick.
The Benefits of Playing in a Small Market
You're always under the microscope when playing for a big-market club like the Red Sox.
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Playing for a large-market franchise such as the Boston Red Sox can be draining, and a move to the small-market Athletics might have been exactly what the doctor ordered for Reddick.
In Oakland, Reddick has been handed the opportunity to quietly develop his game on a team with little to no expectations of winning in the near future.
It's vital to put an inexperienced youngster in a comfort zone as he works his way into the big leagues, and the A’s have done exactly that in 2012.
It's hard to imagine Reddick getting the same opportunity should he have stayed in Boston.
More Prevelent Role in Oakland
The correlation between the success of Josh Reddick and the A's wins is far more significant than Reddick/Boston a year ago.
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Amongst a roster full of high-prized stars like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Reddick was often an afterthought in his days with the Red Sox.
He was in a log jam for playing time in a platoon role in Boston’s outfield in his three seasons with the team, and had meager opportunities to really break out with the club.
The small-market Athletics really treasure Reddick’s talent, and have unofficially dubbed him one of the team’s franchise players alongside Yoenis Cespedes. A true Moneyball bargain superstar, players like Reddick are exactly the type Billy Beane seeks to fill his roster with.
Instead of a near-insignificant role player, Reddick now plays one of the most pivotal roles with the A’s with ample opportunities to succeed.
Regular Playing Time
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Reddick had to battle for a starting spot in Boston, and was never a full-time regular in the outfield in his three seasons with the Red Sox over the course of a whole 162-game season.
Enter Oakland, however, and Reddick was immediately penciled in to the starting lineup card as the team’s starting right fielder.
Consistency and stability is a rarity for a 25-year-old to find in the majors, and that’s exactly what Bob Melvin has provided Reddick in Oakland. Reddick has taken full advantage of this opportunity and looks as comfortable as ever with the A’s.
Hits in the Heart of the Lineup
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A’s manager Bob Melvin immediately recognized the five-tool talent of Reddick upon his import, and subsequently inserted him into the heart of the A’s lineup in the prestigious No. 3 spot in the batting order.
Reddick has started every A’s contest in 2012, and has hit in the three-hole in each game as well.
He’s on pace for 600-plus at-bats this season, and should his production continue throughout the summer, could find himself with 40-plus home runs come October.
That’s not bad considering his previous season high for home runs prior to 2012 were the seven Reddick hit out last season in Boston.