Going into the 2013 season, the Oakland Athletics appeared to be set in the outfield. Between Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith, the Athletics had one of the most dynamic outfields in all of baseball last season. In 2013, however, Oakland has to find a way to play the newly acquired Chris Young.
The Young acquisition is easily the most perplexing one of the off-season. Not only is it confusing because of Oakland’s crowded outfield, but Young really doesn’t fit the type of criteria a Billy Beane player normally has. Granted, Beane has evolved from the true “Moneyball” ways of OBP means everything and speed doesn’t, but I really don’t understand what he plans on doing with Young this season.
Young mostly gets his value from the very flawed UZR statistic. According to Fangraphs, he has produced two straight double-digit defensive seasons in the spacious Chase Field, giving him an average of 3.7 fWAR in that time span. As I wrote yesterday about Reddick, I just have a hard time believing a player’s defensive value means that much, especially when a flawed statistic like UZR is used.
We all know that Cespedes and Reddick are automatic at the corner spots, so the debate is Young or Crisp in centerfield. Crisp had a solid season last year for the Athletics, but he really doesn’t have much staying power. He is basically a less powerful, worst fielding version of Young. If Crisp sits on the bench, however, the A’s really don’t have a “true” leadoff hitter. It would be awesome if Jemile Weeks rebounded and took over that role, but I need to see that before I believe it.
If anything, the Athletics have a ton of options and Crisp is a darn good fourth outfielder. If only one of these guys could play in the infield, then they would be set.