It's been rumored that Ryan Sweeney is undergoing knee surgery that will end his season. There's no question that Sweeney is a valuable asset for the A's playing excellent defense in right field, but more importantly versatile enough to play all three outfield positions, and he possesses a strong arm as well.
Defensively he'll be missed although Gabe Gross does have a very good arm in the outfield as well. Offensively is where the A's will miss Sweeney the most though as he had the highest batting average, among the team leaders in RBI, and doubles.
The injury though could be a blessing in disguise for Sweeney. At 6'4 225 he has not shown any signs of being the power hitter he was projected as. On the season before his injury he hit just one homerun.
Sweeney's career high in homeruns is just six. Also, notable career highs are the 53 RBI he had last year and the 31 doubles also set last year. He was on pace to surpass those highs just not the homeruns.
What has made Sweeney an effective hitter is that he can take the ball the other way, he rarely if ever pulls a pitch. He does have the ability to turn on a pitch, but it's a rare circumstance.
The fact that Sweeney is normally batting third in the lineup says something as well. He's a consistent hitter but if he does turn on a pitch it's normally not in the air and it tends to be on the ground which means if there's a runner on base he has the propensity to hit into double plays.
With power hitters that hit third or fourth in the lineup that's not a huge drawback, but for the A's it is because of the lack of power in the A's lineup.
As for Sweeney it's bad news for the A's because they do lose their best hitter average wise and of course his defense. But, in the long run it could be a blessing in disguise for Sweeney and the A's.
For Sweeney he swings a good bat he knows how to take the ball into left field. The hope is thought during the time off rehabbing is that he continues his approach to hitting the ball to the opposite field, but more importantly learning to turn on pitches more.
There's no excuse for why Sweeney right now is not hitting 15-20 homeruns a year. He has the size to take the ball out of the ballpark, but he just doesn't do it. When he first came to the A's they thought that Sweeney was just learning how to hit at the Major League level and give him a few years and he'd be hitting homeruns.
Well it's been a few years for Sweeney and in fact his power numbers have not shown up yet. When Sweeney comes back healthy here's hoping that the rehab process and his recovery will lead him to discovering that he can hit for power while still taking the ball to left field.