Some of you who follow the Oakland Athletics may have heard a little news item today which involved trading Yoenis Cespedes. Reactions online and on the radio from fans have been mixed but I assure you that once the shock of losing a beloved player disipates, those who doubt Billy Beane will be shown the light.
Was Cespedes a great left fielder with a strong arm and a monster bat? Yep. Was he a fan favorite and popular in the clubhouse? Yep. Is he the main contributor to the Athletics’ success this year? Nope. One doesn’t need to look at the numbers for long to see that the best team in baseball is simply that; a team. While Cespedes brings many tools to the ballpark and provides an entertaining show for all of us in the stands, he is not above replacement (clearly) and may even be improved upon.
For the sake of argument, I’m going to compare Cespedes’ numbers with those of his replacement platoon. It is safe to assume that the acquisition of Sam Fuld and Jonny Gomes is intended to get two people to cover one vacancy and herein lies the potential growth in left field. Cespedes, for all of his strength, is carrying a .303 OBP which is 12th on the Athletics but the OBP of his replacements combine for a stronger .377 and it is no secret that Billy Beane looks at OBP with great value.
Cespedes draws a walk, on average, every 14.25 at bats but his plattoon draws a walk once every 6.2 and the Hit count is very close with Cespedes hitting every 3.9 at bats versus the 3.6 his replacements hit. All of this factors in to a left field average that jumps from .256 to .279.
The main drawback that I’ve found is in runs scored where we’ll see a drop from a run every 6.4 AB to every 11.3 AB but neither Fuld or Gomes have Donaldson, Moss, Vogt, Crisp, Norris, Jaso or Lowrie in their former lineups so I expect that number to end up better when factored with the higher OBP.
With Crisp and Gentry hurting it is also important to note that Fuld, Gomes, and Reddick are now three out fielders who can play anywhere on the field and we all know Cespedes will play nowhere but left. And speaking of Reddick, when were his numbers great? Well, they were pretty good when he was having a “bromance” with Gomes back in 2012. The presence of Gomes may have a dramatic impact on Reddick’s plate appearances and any increase in his run production will make up for what we lack from Cespedes.
Today’s trade was a shcoker. I was on the golf course with two other baseball fans and when our phones started chiming the alert we were shocked for several holes but as the day has worn on I have realized that I’m mad Cespedes is leaving because I like Cespedes but ultimately it is the best move for this team. With the two men sharing left field, we really only need them to break even on the numbers and it’s a win when you factor in how awesome Lester is going to be. Of course, only time will tell but, as Damon Bruce said on the radio today, when we’re all lining Broadway for an October parade we’re all going to be talking about how much we loved this deal.