By now most A’s fans are probably sick of hearing the name Yoenis Céspedes, but it’s no secret that since the team traded him away, the offense has been a train wreck. Although it’s easy to point at the trade as the root of all of the team’s offensive problems, it’s not that simple.
There are a variety of small factors such as injuries and poor match ups that have contributed to the offense’s problems, but the much larger problem can be focused on a player currently on the team: Coco Crisp.
Crisp is the spark plug for the team. He’s at the top of the lineup every day, and he ignites the entire offense with his ability to get on base and be a threat on the bases. His offensive struggles have been clear of late, as he’s just 9 for his last 73 at bats (.123 average). More importantly since he got his rather interesting haircut he is hitting just .118.
Coco’s struggles at the plate obviously transfer to the basepaths as well. Simply put, you can’t steal bases if you’re not on base. The last time that Crisp recorded a stolen base was July 8 when he was hitting .295. Granted, he’s battled injuries since then, but that is still 90 consecutive plate appearances without a steal.
Realistically speaking, it is probably unlikely that Crisp will be hitting .295 again this year, but he should also improve on his current .254 average. His BaBIP (Batting average on balls in play) is .274 this year. His career mark in that category is .295, so some bad luck at the plate is probably contributing to his struggles. Expect him to end up somewhere around the .270 mark for the rest of the year.
Also, no other factors in his season stats show that this is going to be a serious problem for him. He is striking out about as much as usual for him (12.7 percent of plate appearances) and he is actually hitting more line drives His line drive percentage for the year is 26 percent compared to his career mark of 19 percent.
Those percentages basically say that this is no more than a simple slump for Crisp. All hitters go through them once in a while, so it is reasonable to expect that he will be back on track sooner rather than later.
However there’s one part of his game that may not come back. Last year Crisp hit 22 home runs, but his spray chart shows that all of them were down either the left field or right field line. While he can still turn on some inside pitches and drive them down the line, his lack of gap to gap power means he probably won’t ever hit 20 home runs in a season again.
But if all he does is just get base hits and steal bases, the A’s will be ecstatic. When he regains his productive form at the plate, he will probably transfer that success to the basepaths. When that happens, the team can start clicking again at the plate, and put the Céspedes trade behind them once and for all.