Newly-acquired Oakland Athletics catcher John Jaso made his team debut on Opening Night against the Seattle Mariners, hours after ex-battery mate Felix Hernandez gave him a Rolex watch as a thank-you for his service (and the fact that he caught King Felix’s perfect game last season).
A’s manager Bob Melvin hit him second in the A’s batting order, after leadoff hitter Coco Crisp. That’s not ordinarily where you expect a catcher to be in the lineup (unless you’re Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays, who frequently put Jaso first in the Rays’ batting order a few years ago).
So what makes Jaso special enough to warrant special treatment? Well, he led Seattle with an OBP of .394 last season, and has always been known for his patience at the plate. Anyone who knows anything about how Billy Beane and the A’s run their organization knows that they value patience and the ability to get on base (in any fashion) very highly.
Thus, picking up a player like Jaso adds an effective on-base threat to a lineup — which is usually a good idea.
Will plugging Jaso in the two-spot in the A’s lineup be a good option in the long-run? I think it will pay off, although he’ll be sharing time behind the plate with the right-handed hitting Derek Norris. In his short major league career thus far, Norris doesn’t quite have the same kind of on-base skills (his OBP last season was .276 over 60 games), but Jaso tends to struggle against left-handed pitching.
A lineup featuring Crisp and Jaso creates a solid one-two punch leading into the meat of the A’s order, Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes, so I think it’d be in the A’s best interest to run Jaso out there in the two-hole until the stats suggest otherwise.