Last season A’s GM Billy Beane made a few under the radar moves prior to the season that paid such high dividends it nearly created the need for a Moneyball 2. From Brandon Moss to Travis Blackley to Bartolo Colon up and down the roster were players who contributed most nights. This seasons under the radar acquisitions haven’t made too many headlines because there are not as many opportunities to steal the show. One player in particular however tries to play his way into the lineup every time he gets the chance. That player is none other than Nate Freiman.
Freiman’s trip to the big leagues with Oakland was interesting. He began his career after being drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2009. The Houston Astros later drafted him in the Rule 5 Draft in late 2012. This meant that Freiman had to stay on the Major League 25 man roster or risk being offered back to his original team (the Padres)/being put on waivers. If he were claimed on waivers (which the A’s did) the claiming team would face the same Rule 5 rules the Astros did. The Astros decided they did not have room for Freiman so they decided to put Freiman on waivers.
The A’s claimed Freiman in March, a mere week before the season started. Freiman had never played above the Double-A level in his career and in one day was instantly thrust into the Major League environment. While scouts determined he was a power hitter mainly when he got his hands extended and his ceiling was not that high, the A’s needed a right-handed power hitter to replace the production of departed Chris Carter. Beane saw something in him that made him grab Freiman from the Astros. So far it has worked out.
Even though Freiman does not see much playing time when he does play he plays hard. His platoon partner, Brandon Moss, sees the majority of the playing time since he faces right-handed pitchers. However, this has proved to be a good thing for Freiman. For a player who had never seen Major League playing time success is crucial to staying at the top. Manager Bob Melvin has been excellent at getting the most out of his players and the Freiman situation is no different. Taking away the fact that Freiman has struggled in his few at bats against right-handed pitching his numbers are really above average for a part time platoon player with limited experience. His 2013 numbers against left-handed pitching: .315 AVG/.355 OBP/.465 Slugging. Those go along with 2 HR 15 RBI and some clutch hits (most notably the game winning hit against Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees in the 18th inning to complete the sweep.
Those numbers are huge even for limited at bats. The A’s needed someone to try and replicate the value and production Chris Carter brought to the lineup and although Freiman cannot match up the power numbers his average and on base percentage certainly leads most people to believe that Nate Freiman was the A’s best addition of the offseason. His quiet success has helped stabilize a struggling A’s offense whenever he is in the lineup. Do not overlook Freiman’s importance to the A’s.