Coming into the A’s Spring Training, the assumption was that the team would only carry 4 outfielders on their 25 man roster. Those 4 were Cespedes, Reddick, Crisp, and newly acquired Craig Gentry. That assumption is quickly changing in the first week of the Cactus League. Now it’s looking like the A’s have more outfield depth than originally thought.
Craig Gentry is currently being held back for 10 days due to a bad back, and that has left the door wide open for Sam Fuld and Billy Burns. These offseason additions weren’t expected to make the 25 man roster, but the way they are playing is changing those expectations.
Fuld has quickly made a good impression with the A’s. In his 7 at bats this week, he has had 3 hits and has scored runs all 3 of those times on base. While 7 at bats is a small sample size, he has been a bright spot in the lineup as well as in the outfield. He has made some spectacular catches out there, and his old teammates even gave him the nickname superman. Fuld’s current average sits at .429 and while it may not stay there, it’s still an impressive start nonetheless. In this article, I go into more depth on Sam Fuld.
The bigger surprise is outfielder Billy Burns. He was a part of the trade that sent Jerry Blevins to Washington Nationals. Burns has been even more impressive than Fuld has been. In the game against the Rangers, Burns practically carried the team. Here’s how Burns has been so far since spring started.
Burns has had 11 at bats. In those 11 at bats, he has 4 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs scored. That leaves his average at .364 and his OBP at .417. Offensively he’s on fire, but it’s not just at the plate that he’s impressed, it’s on the bases as well. He currently leads all players in stolen bases with 4. His speed causes players to make errors while fielding.
A great example of this came in the game against the Rangers. He hit two infield singles, one of them was because he was going so fast that the second basemen bobbled the ball because he glanced up at majestic speed of Burns for just a second. He stole bases with ease, got himself in scoring position, and ended up scoring runs.
Burns is proving to be a major threat defensively as well. He threw two runners out against the Rangers, one at third and one more impressively at home plate. A killer arm and wheels for legs to get any flyball out there makes Burns just as much of a threat in the outfield as he is at the plate. Just look at the picture above for proof.
So when things were starting off in Arizona, it was looking like an easy decision, just take the 4 outfielders. Now after just one week it’s looking like the decision just got a whole lot harder to make for Bob Melvin. It’s a good problem to have, a problem other teams look at with envy.