Josh Reddick is off to a horrid start to the 2014 season. Fans are clamoring for Reddick to be sent down to the minors in favor of a .233 lifetime hitter. Sam Fuld had an energy about him, I will grant you that, but Reddick’s off-year last season was far and away better than Fuld’s career best season. Reddick in 2013: .226, 12 HR, 56 RBI and 54 R. Fuld’s career year in 2011: .240, 3 HR, 27 RBI and 41 R. Josh Reddick is struggling, and looking lost at the plate, but let’s not act like Sam Fuld was the answer. Instead, let’s temper our expectations and maneuver playing time a little bit and see what makes the most sense.
Remember Chris Young last season? Of course you do. Former Rookie of the Year candidate, who showed lots of promise. His numbers in Arizona started to diminish, so he was shipped to Oakland for Cliff Pennington. This looked like a steal of a trade!…Until we saw what Young was about. He batted .200 with 12 HR and 40 RBI last season. It feels as though he compiled all of his power numbers against the Astros in 2013. He was so bad, I named a cycle in honor of him. It consists of a strikeout, fly out, groundout and a double play. Josh Reddick had only 50 more ABs than Young last season, but his numbers were overall much higher, even while battling a nagging wrist injury.
Why harp on Chris Young if he isn’t on the team? Because Chris Young stayed in Oakland the whole season, and the A’s were carrying 5 outfielders, not 4 like they are now (Yes, Brandon Moss could count as a 5th, but he will play most games at 1st base). Young struggled for the entire season and kept his job. Reddick showed a burst of greatness in 2012, but maybe that isn’t the real Josh Reddick. Maybe the real Josh Reddick is a .240-.250 hitter that is good for 15-20 HRs and about 60 RBIs. He still plays magnificent defense, and his arm keeps runners at bay.
The answer that makes the most sense is this: give Craig Gentry more ABs. Gentry is a career .279 hitter, and has speed. He could be a second Coco Crisp in the A’s lineup. Bat Gentry 9th in the order, with Coco leading off. The two of them on the base paths at the same time would cause havoc in a pitcher’s mind, allowing Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson to get better pitches to hit. The A’s don’t need to win every game via the long ball. Heck, they can’t win every game via the long ball. Stringing together hits is what wins games, especially in the playoffs.
What does this mean for Josh Reddick? Bob Melvin needs to put him in situations where he knows he can succeed. No more lefty on lefty action. It looks as though Melvin has been trying the “you’re still our guy” approach to give Reddick confidence and it isn’t working. Putting Josh Reddick in situations where he will succeed is the next step.
Josh Reddick has been facing a lot of criticism from fans after his sluggish start. When he came over from the Red Sox before the 2012 season, he had a chip on his shoulder, and played like it. He seems to have lost that chip in the past year. Moving him into a lesser role could do him some good. In 2011 with Boston, he posted a .280 average in 278 ABs. Josh Reddick will come around at some point this season, but to what degree and how long the A’s will wait for a turnaround remains the big question in Oakland.