The Oakland Athletics made a few moves before the start of the season in an attempt to revamp an offense in major need of some power. One of the guys the team landed in the offseason was veteran Hideki Matsui, and entering the season, the Athletics had some high hopes with Matsui penciled in the designated hitter spot.
Oakland hasn’t had a productive DH since the days of Frank Thomas back in 2006, and while Jack Cust provided a little bit of pop for a few years after Thomas, the A’s haven’t been able to find a player as productive as Thomas was during ’06.
General manager Billy Beane, who will be portrayed by Brad Pitt in the film adaptation of Moneyball, searched for ways to upgrade an offense that struggled to score runs in 2010, and must’ve figured Matsui still had in him to be a productive everyday player.
During a tumultuous first-half of the season, however, Matsui hardly looked like a productive player. In and out of Bob Geren’s lineup during most of the first-half until Geren’s firing, Matsui struggled, hitting just .209/.290/.327 with six home runs and 34 RBIs before the All-Star break.
Once Oakland let go of Geren as manager, however, the A’s saw a sudden change in Matsui. It probably had something to do with new manager Bob Melvin’s approach.
Since arriving to Oakland, Melvin has displayed a real respect and admiration for Matsui, and has trusted the slugger as the team’s everyday DH.
Matsui has since responded to Melvin’s trust, hitting an unprecedented .340/.384/.500 with five home runs and 30 RBIs since the All-Star break. Matsui has been one of the A’s best second-half players, and a main reason for the team’s offensive turnaround in the second-half.
The A’s didn’t invest a whole lot of money in Matsui, and so while he’s definitely showing signs of decline at this stage of his career, I’m sure the A’s are happy with Matsui’s production this season. On the year, Matsui is hitting .259 with 11 HR and 64 RBIs.
Last season, Matsui hit .274 with 21 HR and 84 RBIs with the Angels.