Oakland Athletics' Coco Crisp Reinventing Approach At Age 33

By Thom Tsang
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but at this pace, Coco Crisp might just be in line for his first All-Star Game appearance.

With the plethora of outfielders that the Oakland Athletics started 2013 with, would you have guessed that the 33-year-old, whose game is supposed to be well established at this point of his career, would be easily the best among a group of young guns like Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes?

Yet, it’s now the first week of June, and it’s Crisp who has been worth 1.6 fWAR, second only to Josh Donaldson‘s 2.6 and easily leading the team’s outfield corps.

Not only has he not slowed down from his .283/.388/.556 in the first month of the season, even his unexpected power stroke from April (five homers, 10 doubles) might be making a return.

All of that, and then some, was on display on Monday at the A’s took on the Milwaukee Bucks, with Crisp being the catalyst all game long, going 4-for-5 with a walk, including his 14th double and sixth homer of the season.

Oakland wound up scoring 10 runs on 19 hits, so it’s not as though the rest of his teammates didn’t have good days either; but even in the midst of an offensive explosion, you might as well have called this game the Coco Crisp show. The four hits was his highest single-game total in 2013, and pulled his season triple-slash up to .300/.401/.513.

That .914 OPS, by the way, puts him fifth among qualifying OFs in MLB, with his 149 wRC+ coming in at a sixth place tie — in other words, Coco Crisp is hitting better than Ryan Braun and Justin Upton.

It’s fun to say, even if it’s obviously not expected that his second-in-the-majors .401 OBP will stay up there; that said, the 15 percent walk rate he currently carries isn’t what you could call a fluke either. Crisp is swinging at fewer pitchers than ever (37.9 percent, lowest in PITCHf/x era), and more importantly, he’s swinging at far fewer outside pitches (17.9 percent).

No wonder why he currently has a career-best 4.3 percent swinging strike rate. This is a more patient hitter than he’s been over his entire career (career-best 1.71 BB/K), and that he’s flipped the switch 11 years into his time in the big leagues is remarkable.

On a current pace to have a 20-homer, 39-steal, 133-run season … it might not be very much longer before Crisp’s rejuvenation of his career is recognized at the Midsummer Classic, too.

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