The A’s have had an offense consisting over the last two seasons mainly consisting of clutch hits and home runs. With the acquisition of Craig Gentry and the departures of Seth Smith and Chris Young, the A’s offense is going be tweaked going into next season. It will be a noticeable transition at the bottom of the lineup that might jumpstart the A’s if the power hitters begin to struggle. It won’t sound like a big change, but it will have a big affect on the A’s offense going forward over the next few seasons.
Last week A’s Manager Bob Melvin met with reporters at Phoenix Municipal Stadium and gave an overview of how things in Spring Training will go and what to expect with the players they have in camp and the ones who will make the team. One comment that stuck out and that was caught by San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser was Melvin mentioning he would start to hit and run more with Gentry on the team. His speed and contact rate make him a perfect candidate for both sides of the hit and run when implemented.
This could have a major impact on the bottom three or four hitters in the lineup. While they may not be the fastest group (outside of Gentry) any combination of Eric Sogard, Alberto Callaspo, Josh Reddick, Stephen Vogt, or Derek Norris can get a jumpstart on a hit and run and potentially score or put them in a better position to score. Sans Reddick all of the players listed make decent contact consistently and generally stay on the ground when they put the ball in play.
In the playoffs one spot that has been consistently attacked (especially by Justin Verlander) is the bottom of the order. Hit and runs do not always work and therefore should be used with caution. However, if a part of the order is struggling sometimes you have to find a way to get them going. Obviously, Melvin has exceled at this during his tenure in Oakland. But this change in offense was no doubt made with October in mind.
Craig Gentry was acquired for a multitude of reasons. His versatility, he can come off the bench cold to hit, his defense, his speed, and his contact rate. Though he is not an offensive powerhouse he will transform the lineup whenever he is in it. Josh Reddick will hopefully bounce back and be the same style of player from the opposite side of the plate, but with a few more strikeouts and home runs. If the change from waiting for a home run to more hit and runs works well this could be a major factor come October.