Oakland A's: Where Will Chris Young Fit into the Oakland Athletics' Lineup?

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Oakland A's: Where Will Chris Young Fit into the Oakland Athletics' Lineup?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Young brings a capable glove as well as a power bat to Oakland.

Now that the A's have acquired Chris Young, the question has become simple: How does he fit into the 2013 lineup? There seems to be a crowded outfield with the expected return of Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Gold Glove winner Josh Reddick.

With Jonny Gomes expected to depart, there becomes a need for Oakland to have a power-hitting designated hitter. What this means is, the four outfielders in the mix may very well rotate based on matchups against the opposition's starters. 

For instance, against right-handed pitching, there is the potential to use Reddick, Crisp and Cespedes or Young (taking advantage of Reddick's and Crisp's production against righties) in the outfield, while Seth Smith would DH. Based on history against some starters, there could be some mixing and matching.

Against lefties, there will be an alteration, as Smith will likely be sat to allow Crisp, Cespedes and Young to all hit. Since Reddick hit a paltry .214 against left-handed starters, manager Bob Melvin could even be inclined to bring him off the bench in some games as a lefty bat. That could obviously change if Reddick's batting average ascends in 2013. 

The bottom line is, Young is going to see plenty of time in the lineup in 2013 as long as he is healthy. That leads to the question of where he will hit. The way I see it, the current roster projects a starting lineup that looks something like this exiting spring training (vs. lefties):

1. Crisp (CF)

2. Weeks (2B)

Which combination should the A's play most in 2013?

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3. Cespedes (LF/DH)

4. Reddick (RF)

5. Carter (1B)

6. Young (LF/CF/DH)

7. Donaldson (3B)

8. Norris (C)

9. ??? (SS)

As you can see, I project Young to hit sixth with Oakland, but Reddick and Carter could easily swap places. Something tells me Melvin won't thrust Young in a prime position in the lineup, but he could easily slide a slot or two if he comes out swinging. By contrast, here is my projected lineup against right-handed starters:

1. Crisp (CF)

2. Weeks (2B)

3. Cespedes (LF/DH)

4. Reddick (RF)

5. Moss (1B)

Where in the order should Chris Young hit?

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6. Smith (DH)

7. Young (LF/CF/DH)

8. Norris (C)

9. ??? (SS)

Chris Young has only hit .228 in his career against right-handed starting pitching. Initially, he will play almost every day. If he struggles to hit, I don't think Melvin will hesitate to platoon him the way he did so judiciously in 2012. Remember, for all of Oakland's success in the outfield, Cespedes and Crisp both missed chunks of the 2012 season with injury.

So Young's addition works twofold: 1) The A's don't have to over-work any of the three starting outfielders in 2013, and more importantly, 2) there is a high-quality defensive replacement who can more than capably step in for big stretches in the field. And while Young will likely never hit for a big average, he can hit the long ball (average of 24 per 162 games played). In that vein, he fits in perfectly in the East Bay.

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