Last week, I boldly stated in Sean Davis’s Prognostications from the Swingin’ A’s Crew, that Brandon Allen would be a key to the A’s success in 2012. Today, he has been designated for assignment in place of another chapter in the saga of Daric Barton‘s career. What a difference a week makes. With Barton recovering from a shoulder injury and having an option left, it looked like a safe bet that he would stay at Sacramento for the time being and the A’s would go with the combo of Allen and Kila Ka’aihue at first base. After a four game experiment, Ka’aihue finds himself relegated to the bench, Barton back starting at first, and Brandon Allen cut loose into baseball oblivion awaiting his next opportunity. Let’s take a look at what lead to this decision and why the leash was so short to begin with.
As part of the Brad Ziegler trade, Allen came over at the trade deadline from Arizona last season and immediately caught the attention of stat heads like myself. Looking at his gaudy numbers in Triple-A Reno, which granted were somewhat askew due to playing in the launching pad known as Aces Stadium. I was nevertheless intrigued by his power potential and his 1.006 OPS in 83 games with the Aces. Upon his call up to Oakland in mid August, it became apparent that Allen was gifted with prestigious power. Putting his talents on display during a game against the Yankees on August 23rd, he would become only the 2nd player to hit a ball into the upper deck at the new Yankee Stadium. During his month and half long stay at the big level, it became abundantly clear that although his power was real, so were his deficiencies at the plate. Armed with the knowledge that he had considerable difficulty laying off pitches in the dirt. Opposing pitchers would attack and expose Allen’s vulnerabilities in the final weeks. Striking out an alarming 55 times in 158 plate appearances, it was apparent that he would have to make adjustments in 2012.
Faced with competition this spring from Ka’waihue and Barton, Allen rose to the challenge putting up strong splits of .314/.368/.571 while cutting down his K’s and showing excellent athleticism and competent defense at first base. Named the opening day first basemen in Japan, he struggled in 7 at bats against the Seattle Mariners and was rendered helpless against King Felix’s power slider and hard curve striking out 5 times. Usually going hitless against one of the best pitchers in baseball over two games isn’t going to cost a player his job. But with Barton ready to come off the DL, and Ka’waihue making consistent contact something had to give and unfortunately Allen was the odd man out.
While it all makes sense, and due to his on base skills it became obvious that Barton would get a chance to reclaim his starting job. It still feels like Allen wasn’t given a fair chance to solidify himself in Oakland. While he still has plenty of time to reach his potential as a power hitting first basemen it doesn’t appear that this will happen with the A’s. Perhaps he will make it through waivers and stay in the organization, but due to his potential it’s more than likely he will find himself on another team sometime in the near future. I myself would of like to have seen Allen make the necessary adjustments and succeed in Green and Gold, giving the A’s something they have not had in years. A source of power at first base. I suppose it’s comforting we still have Chris Carter in the organization. Right?