A's 2012 Outfield Projections


Will Jai Miller Power His Way Into Oakland's 2012 Outfield? (Photo Credit: Chris Lockard/Scout.com)

The offseason is officially underway, but the A’s haven’t been making much noise when it comes to making a splash in this year’s free agent market.

While the Marlins go fishing for the services of Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes, the penny-pinching A’s sit around waiting for an answer to their current stadium situation.

Rumor has it, however, that MLB is pushing to reach a decision regarding Oakland’s request to move to San Jose. Ken Rosenthal, of FOXSports.com, writes that a new push is being made in Oakland’s quest to become residents of San Jose.

Until a decision is reached, however, Oakland will likely sit around this offseason with only one goal: rebuild for the future. In fact, the A’s are expected, given their financial limitations, to begin building towards the future.

As a result of this pursuit to go “young,” the A’s are likely to let their veteran free agents explore greener pastures. That means no Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, or David DeJesus next season. Oakland’s outfield, as a result, projects to be much different next year.

Next year, the Willingham-less A’s will likely roll out with an outfield corps that includes the likes of Ryan Sweeney, Jai Miller, and Michael Taylor.

Losing Willingham certainly doesn’t bode well for the power-starved A’s, but the team should be interested in seeing what Miller and Taylor have to offer.

If they’re really that interested in going young, why not give a guy like Taylor, a well-regarded team prospect, a chance next year? The A’s aren’t expected to compete next year, so why not spend the season trying to develop some of your best talent?

Taylor was acquired by the A’s during the whole Cliff Lee-Roy Halladay trade a few years ago and the A’s are hopeful he’ll prove to be an effective everyday MLB outfielder.

His first year with Oakland didn’t go extremely well, as he hit .272/.348/.392 with just 6 HR and 78 RBIs in 2010. He drove in runs, but his power was way down from Oakland’s initial expectations.

This year was a little different for Taylor, as he saw an increase in his OBP, OPS, and HRs. On the year, Taylor hit .272/.360/.456 with 16 HR and 64 RBIs. He was a September call-up this year, but he was, in my mind, at least, misused by Bob Melvin and the A’s.

In 11 games with Oakland, Taylor hit .200/.314/.300 with a homer and an RBI. He didn’t receive much of a chance to show off his skill set during the season’s final month, but he should have more than enough time this spring to prove he’s ready for the majors.

Hopefully for Oakland’s sake, Taylor is ready by Opening Day.

Miller, meanwhile, is another option worth exploring next spring. The 26-year old appeared in a handful of games this year for the A’s, hitting .250/.250/.500 with a homer and two RBIs in seven games with Oakland.

Miller also put up rather impressive numbers with Triple-A Sacramento this year, hitting .276/.368/.588 with 36 HR and 88 RBIs through 110 games.

His .956 OPS is appealing, but his critics will likely be quick to point to his 37.7% K rate as evidence that Miller isn’t all that and a bag of chips after all.

While the K rate does scare me a bit, I’d still like to see what Miller has to offer this coming spring. The A’s can’t be real picky, given their current situation, so giving a guy like Miller a chance to prove his worth this spring is worth exploring.

Sweeney is also another option for Oakland’s 2012 starting outfield. Sweeney has been a solid performer during his career in Oakland, although he doesn’t hit for much power as you’d want from a starting outfielder.

In fact, Sweeney is almost powerless. Over the four years he’s been in Oakland, he’s hit a total of 13 home runs. Sweeney’s ISO (isolated power) this year was an unimpressive .076, and was also down from last year’s .086.

He wasn’t a key figure in Oakland’s outfield this year, thanks to DeJesus hogging all of the playing time, and appeared in just 108 games this season. In his 299 plate appearances, Sweeney put together a .265/.346/.341 slash line along with a homer and 25 RBIs.

Sweeney won’t offer much power for the A’s, but he’ll provide the team with solid defense and a high batting average. For a team with not a whole lot of options and very little cash, Sweeney is a solid candidate for one of Oakland’s vacant outfield spots next year.

*Update: Another option comes in the form of Jermaine Mitchell, who enjoyed a breakout season this year with the organization. In 74 games with Double-A Midland, Mitchell hit .355/.453/.589 with 10 HR and 50 RBIs. He was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento in July where he posted a .302/.401/.453 slash line along with 5 HR and 28 RBIs. His breakout season was something I overlooked, and I’m not entirely sure as to why that happened. It was fellow A’s-fanatic and Senior Editor of FanSided’s Seedlings to Stars Nathaniel Stoltz who reminded me of Mitchell shortly after this post was initially published.

Looking at Mitchell’s numbers it’s quite easy to tell that this guy definitely deserves a shot next season in Oakland. He’s not expected to be ready for the start of the season due to recent knee surgery, but once he’s healthy it’s expected he’ll get a shot to compete for one of Oakland’s outfield positions.

The A’s could scavenge the market for outfield options, but I don’t see them spending a ton of money to help rebuild their outfield for next year. They’ll likely receive in-house help next year in the outfield.

What do you think? What options are worth exploring for the A’s? Sound off below in the comments section!



Tags: 2012 A's 2012 Oakland Athletics A's Outfield Baseball Reference Bud Selig Coco Crisp David DeJesus FanGraphs Jai Miller Josh Willingham Michael Choice Michael Taylor MLB MLB A's MLB Offseason Oakland A's Oakland Athletics Oakland Athletics Offseason Payroll Ryan Sweeney San Jose Selig

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