Oakland A's: Why Kevin Kouzmanoff Is the Right-Handed Version of Jack Hannahan

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IApril 22, 2010

SEATTLE - APRIL 12:  Kevin Kouzmanoff #5 of the Oakland Athletics hits a sac fly against the Seattle Mariners during the Mariners' home opener at Safeco Field on April 12, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 4-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Last year the Oakland A's had a terrible time finding a third basemen that could hit a baseball.

Jack Hannahan played in 52 games for the A's before being traded and ultimately replaced by Adam Kennedy, who the A's had signed to a minor league contract. 

Hannahan a left hande hitter batted .193 and had a homer and eight RBI before being traded to the Seattle Mariners. In 2008 he hit .218 with 9 homers and 47 RBI in 143 games.

The only thing that kept kept him in the lineup was his defense, because other then that he could not hit. Teams want their third basemen teams to hit for power and drive in runs, something that Hannahan simply could not do. 

In the offseason Kennedy was not resigned, even though throughout the 2009 season he was the A's most consistent hitter. He hit .289 with 11 homers and 63 RBI while playing third base, second base and even in the outfield at one point. 

A's general manager, Billy Beane, knew that he needed a third basemen, because Eric Chavez wasn't ready. So, Beane made a traded Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham for Kevin Kouzmanoff. 

Kouzmanoff, like Hannahan, is an outstanding defensive third basemen. The Kouzmanoff trade was supposed to add pop to the A's lineup. So far, though, the A's have not seen anything resembling a power threat or a hitter for that matter. 

In the first 15 games of the season Kouzmanoff has been hitting in the No. 4 hole, a place where Kouzmanoff shouldn't have been to begin with. Early in the season the A's had a number of times with runners on base with Kouzmanoff at the plate, but he has hit into several double plays.

So far, on the season Kouzmanoff is batting .210 with a homer and six RBI. The most telling stat though is that Kouzmanoff is 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position. 

A's manager Bob Geren finally made a decision after the 15th game to move Kouzmanoff down in the lineup, as he's now hitting in the sixth spot, which is where he should have been to start year off. 

I understand that Kouzmanoff has some adjustments to make coming from the National League to the American League, but his at-bats are ridiculous. He swings at too many bad pitches and hasn't show any kind of patience at the plate. 

Tonight's game when Kouzmanoff was facing Phil Hughes for the first time he had some pitches to hit. Instead of taking a fastball on the outside corner to right field he tried pulling the ball, where he swung and miss.

Again he had an opportunity in the game this time with runners and first and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to take a ball to right field against Mariano Rivera. Just like the time before he tried to pull the pitch and ended up swinging and missing. 

Kouzmanoff should follow the advice given by Hank Aaron: "They've got to learn how to hit the ball to the opposite field and do the little things to help their ballclub win championships."

Right now he's not doing the little things it takes to help the A's win. It's not like Kouzmanoff was going to come in and hit 30 home runs. His career high had been 23 in 2008 and in 2009 he hit only 18. Again though, this goes back to the statement made by Aaron and Kouzmanoff is simply not doing the little things to help his team win. 

In 2008 he struck out 139 times and walked only 23 times and in 2008 he did a little better at not striking out, fanning only 106 times, but he walked just 27 times.

Kouzmanoff is going to have to change his approach at the plate where he takes more pitches or otherwise he's just going to become the right handed version of Hannahan.