After a 4-for-5 effort including a triple, a home run, two RBI and two runs, Josh Reddick is hitting above .200 for the first time in 2013. It would have been hard to predict coming into the Oakland Athletics‘ 2013 season that a player who had been so central to the team’s success in 2012 would struggle so extensively in the opening months of the season.
Reddick, after all, had launched 32 home runs, driven in 85 runs and even garnered 16 AL MVP votes in his first campaign with the club. Of course, he had also scuffled badly in September with a .164 batting average as he finished the season hitting .242. His 32 home run tally could perhaps be put into better context when you consider that nearly a third (10) of his home runs came in the month of May.
This April Reddick picked up exactly where he’d left off last fall. In the first month of the season he hit .139 with one home run and a .472 OPS. Those numbers were, of course, greatly impacted by the wrist injury that Reddick sustained on April 7 while chasing a foul ball in a game that the Athletics were leading 8-0 at the time.
Reddick didn’t land on the DL until May 8. When he was finally shelved, he was hitting .158 with seven extra-base hits on the season. Since returning on the final day of May, Reddick has hit .309 (17-for-55) in 14 games. Even with a triple and home run in the last game of the homestand, Reddick has still only tallied 12 extra-base hits on the season.
But as I mentioned before the series with the Seattle Mariners, Reddick is in good company when it comes to Oakland Athletics’ outfielders who have struggled early only to turn it around in the second half of the season. Last year at this point Coco Crisp, who like Reddick had spent time on the DL, was hitting .190 with five extra-base hits.
Crisp hit .342 in July, and absolutely took off in August as the center fielder swiped nine bags, and collected 11 doubles, three triples and four home runs. Crisp finished the season with a .259 average, 11 home runs, 25 doubles and 39 stolen bases. Not a bad haul for a leadoff man who made it into 118 games.
It’s hard to say if Reddick will follow Crisp’s path from 2012, but if nothing else, the parallel to Crisp underscores just how long the MLB season is, and just how much time Reddick has to erase the memories of his forgettable start. Reddick has 90 games to be exact, and could still collect 300 to 400 more plate appearances.
If Reddick can hit around .255 over the remainder of the season, he would end up around .242, right where he ended last season and right around his career average of .240 in 1133 at bats. With about three and half months to go, it seems well within reach for Reddick to add 12 home runs, 18 doubles and maybe mix in a few stolen bases. That would leave Reddick with 26 doubles and 15 home runs. Not 2012, but also far from a disaster.
It’s also worth noting that for all his struggles at the plate, Reddick has never let them affect his play in the field. His defense has been stellar, and the right fielder has been a menace to unsuspecting base runners, third base coaches and broadcasters the league over. And that’s not something that can be said of Chris Young, the team’s other struggling outfielder. Young has looked utterly lost while playing in the unfamiliar corner spots of the outfield, and hasn’t looked much better in center field.
Perhaps most impressive, however, is the fact that midway through June the Athletics are thirteen games over .500 and Reddick has 12 extra-base hits. And that’s not to say that Reddick hasn’t contributed to that record, as he has consistently provided game-changing plays with his glove. But it does make you wonder where the team might be headed if Reddick truly has found his stroke.