Oakland A's Need Resurgent Performances from Outfielders to Contend in 2014

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Oakland A's Need Resurgent Performances from Outfielders to Contend in 2014
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It’s safe to say that Oakland A’s outfielders struggled in 2013. In fact, they ranked 28th in the majors with a collective batting average of .236.

Yoenis Cespedes was perhaps the biggest disappointment. Cespedes, the Cuban sensation who batted .292 with an .861 OPS in 2012, fell off in almost every major category in 2013. His home run total jumped from 23 to 26, but he posted an alarmingly low .294 OBP, and his OPS fell by 125 points to .736. Additionally, his WAR was cut in half, from 3.4 to 1.7.

Josh Reddick was actually worse than Cespedes. Reddick, who won a Gold Glove in 2012 and hit 32 home runs, also fell off in most statistical categories. His home run total fell by 20, he hit .226 and his OPS was a dismal .686.

Reddick figures to start the season behind newly acquired Craig Gentry on the depth chart, but he should still see plenty of playing time throughout the season. The A's will need him to step up when he gets opportunities, as his inconsistency at the plate is a serious detriment to the lineup.

Luckily, the A's shipped Chris Young and his .280 OBP to the New York Mets, so his ineptness at the plate will not be a problem in 2013. Also, the addition of Gentry (.373 OBP in 2013) is a huge improvement offensively.

Despite their struggles at the plate, A's outfielders are tremendous defensively. Gentry is their second best fielder, as he ranked 10th in the majors in UZR in 2013, according to Fangraphs. Reddick, who was seventh in UZR, is their best defensive outfielder and provides value as a late-inning defensive replacement.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

It wasn't all bad for A's outfielders offensively though. In fact, they ranked third in RBI and sixth in runs in 2013. Coco Crisp had a solid year, especially with his late-season resurgence. (He hit .287 with 12 home runs in the season's final two months.)

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The outfielders' high RBI total was mostly a product of the success of other position players. Third baseman Josh Donaldson was an on-base machine (.384 OBP, sixth in the AL), first baseman Brandon Moss had 30 home runs and 87 RBI and shortstop Jed Lowrie hit .290 with 80 runs.

In short, the outfielders' RBI and runs totals aren't indicative of good performances because they were made possible by the solid hitting of the infielders. With that being said, if the A's outfielders can keep doing what they typically do defensively while making a jump back to 2012 levels of production, then 2014 will be a fun season indeed in Oakland.

 

All statistics courtesy of ESPN, unless otherwise noted.

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