Time to speculate Oakland’s revamped outfield including 2016 World Series woulda-been hero, Rajai Davis. Of course, there will be the signature Bob Melvin platoon method of defense.
There’s something, not a lot, but something to be excited about in what’s brewing on newly named Rickey Henderson Field. “Khris Davis brings the pop, while Rajai Davis provides the speed. The 36-year-old veteran remains one of the biggest base-stealing threats in the game, and will likely be counted on to hit at the top of this Oakland lineup. Rajai Davis hit .249/.306/.388 with 12 homers and an AL-leading 43 steals for the Indians last year,” wrote Jane Lee of Mlb.com.
Matt Joyce: Along with the acquisition of Davis, Oakland inked a two-year, 11 million dollar deal with former Pittsburgh Pirate, Matt Joyce. Joyce will bring a lot to the table and will provide a 2012 Seth Smith role playing in about 120 games, but a vital piece of the platoon system thanks to his right handed hitting specialties. Also Seth Smith-like is the fact that he led the MLB in pinch-hit RBI’s and walks. Entering his age 32 season, hopefully Joyce will help average out the A’s defensive runs saved (Oakland finished dead last in the statistic thanks to shitty performances from Marcus Semien and Danny Valencia). Joyce will also help take the load off of Khris Davis in left field. So far this Spring, Joyce has been tearing the cover off the ball with two homerun balls and a .400 batting average.
2017 season line for Matt Joyce: .267 avg., .398 OBP, 19 HR, 60 RBI
Matt Olson: The young buck and No. 15 prospect ranked by MLBPipeline.com, 22-year-old Matt Olson. Despite his MLB performance in 2016, Olson appears to be a very promising piece of the future puzzle. 6’5″ and 230 lbs., Olson last season in AAA Nashville was on pace for a 20 homer year while maintaining a solid .340 OBP. He’ll probably need a few more years to develop but I see Olson getting a better taste of the bigs and spending half the year with Oaktown. Olson already this Spring has made me want to ship his ass back to Tennessee but… ya know… we’ll see. He made a bobbling catch next to the away dugout that ended up being posted by verified social media accounts so that’s cool I guess.
2017 season line for Matt Olson: .256 avg., .334 OBP, 10 HR, 34 RBI
Mark Canha: Canha-get a witness to what he’s been doing so far in Mesa? Canha’s bum hip sent him to season ending surgery in mid-May last year and a comeback season is anticipated. In fact, I’ll guarantee it. He’ll probably be seen for the majority of the time in left field and platooning in at right field, first base, and maybe a little third base. Canha had a really strong coming out party in 2015 and will have a break out season. In fact, I think if Oakland is in the hunt around mid-August, he’s going to be one of the driving reasons.
2017 season line for Mark Canha: .289 avg., .392 OBP, 24 HR, 81 RBI
Rajai Davis: Donning the green and gold again, bringing Rajai back was the best move the Oakland front office made this off-season. The whole team is loving the move to snatch him up, “He brings a lot of experience and excitement to our team and clubhouse and will help add to a good atmosphere. It’s exciting to have a guy that could steal 40-plus bases. I have always thought he was tough to play against, so I’m excited to have him on our side now!” said Stephen Vogt over a text message to the Associated Press. Davis will be a HUGE upgrade in the fielding perspective of centerfield which was occupied last year by minus defenders Billy Burns, Coco Crisp, and Smolinski. Davis last season led the AL in stolen bases with 43 and will fill in the void for the A’s speed who finished 14th in the AL in the category.
2017 season line for Rajai Davis: .261 avg., .314 OBP, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 50 SB
Khris Davis: “KHRis” Davis earned his nickname last year with launching 42 homers over the fence, third in the league. This past winter Davis won his arbitration hearing and resulted in the A’s coughing up $5 million. Overall, a good deal for a guy who hit 40+ HR’s the previous year. Davis spent most of his time last year in the DH spot. Expect for more of the same. All good things come to an end however, Davis’ bat will become minute once the AL figures out how the hell he hit in 103 RBI’s.
2017 season line for Khris Davis: .235 avg., .289 OBP, 21 HR, 67 RBI
Alejandro De Aza: I don’t want to read too much into spring training stats because they mean absolutely nothing for the most part (Cowboys reference warning) but this past NFL preseason some guy named Dak Prescott shocked Dallas but annoyed the rest of the United States. De Aza, 32-years-old, has been playing out of his damn mind this Spring and all signs indicate this will be a comeback season. Reality check: De Aza is gonna play in 50 games this year and shit bricks and 2017 will be his last season.
2017 season line for Alejandro De Aza: .227 avg., .293 OBP, 5 HR, 11 RBI
Jake Smolinski: Another run of the mill, .230 a year borderline major league ball player. Claimed off of waivers from Texas, all he’s good for is the providing of depth in case of an injury down in Nashville.
2017 season line for Jake Smolinski: .219 avg., .238 OBP, 3 HR, 13 RBI
Other Platoon Members: Without a doubt Vogt will be floated into right field at some point for a dozen or so games. Newly acquired Plouffe, who we’ll examine next week, I expect to log some innings out in the corner outfield positions. But there’s someone else we’re forgetting to talk about: Jaycob Brugman.
Jaycob Brugman: Brugman has had Melvin salivating and for good reason. “For anybody in our camp to have some versatility, it works to their benefit, but the fact that he plays center field and plays it well helps,” Melvin said. “We don’t have too many guys that play center field naturally.” Brugman lit up the MiLB pitching he saw in his 2016 campaign, hitting .285 with 12 HR and 87 RBI’s between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville last year. Rajai right now is the only centerfielder on the roster that can play the position well. Expect Brugman to spend sometime out there to give Davis some needed days off.
2017 season line for Jacob Brugman: 60 GP, .256 avg., .301 OBP, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 10 SB
It would’ve benefitted Oakland to go out into the free agency market in search of some better depth in the outfield and perhaps find another speedster like Ben Revere, signed by AL West compatriot, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on a one-year, $4 million contract… I’d say that would’ve been do-able even up to M. Beane’s standards. Or hell, bring back Coco. He’s still unsigned and he was a beloved Athletic. He can provide charisma, a .230 batting average, and 30 stolen bases.
The A’s front office just didn’t try this Winter. Not saying that I know it all but… I know it all.