Nate Freiman and Brandon Moss Are Providing Oakland Athletics With Best Platoon in MLB

By Karl Buscheck
Brandon Moss Swing
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Moss, or Brandon Freiman, or whatever you want to call him, is a really good player.

I am, of course, referring to the Oakland Athletics‘ inexpensive and awesomely productive first base platoon of Nate Freiman and Brandon Moss.

Here are the stats: 292 at-bats, .267 average, 16 home runs, 13 doubles and 50 RBIs

That’s the production that the club has received out of the first base spot when you combine Freiman’s performance against lefties with Moss’ numbers against righties. Not bad stuff from a Rule 5 draft pick and a minor league free agent. So far, Freiman has provided the average and Moss has supplied the power.

In 2013, Freiman has 83 at-bats against lefties and he’s hitting .325. He’s added two home runs, six doubles and 15 RBIs. He’s been reaching base at an impressive clip of .374, has been slugging just under .500 and has an .868 OPS.

As I discussed last week, Moss absolutely crushes righties. So far in 2013, Moss has collected 209 at-bats against right-handers. The 29-year old is hitting just .244, but he does have 14 bombs, seven doubles and has knocked in 35 runs. His OBP is .328, he’s slugging .498 and his OPS is .825.

The only problem with this platoon, of course, is that they can only pinch-hit for each other once in a game. If Freiman has already been burned, leaving Moss in to face a hard-throwing lefty in the late innings is far from ideal.

Just as Moss has been stumped by lefties, Freiman has endured some struggles this year against righties. So far, the 26-year-old first baseman is just 4-for-29 off right-handers. One of those four, however, was a 18th inning walk-off he ripped off Mariano Rivera, the legendary closer for the New York Yankees.

So, maybe there’s reason to believe he could enjoy success off righties as well.

Then there’s the incredible value of this platoon. The team will be paying just under $2.1 million for both guys in 2013. For comparison, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has appeared in just 15 games this season and went deep three times. Teixeira will be banking $22.5 million in 2013, so that means each of those three bombs has been worth $7.5 million.

The 33-year old won’t get the chance to add to that total either, as a bum wrist means he’s done for the season.

Moss makes $1.6 million this year after originally being snapped up as a minor league free agent before the 2012 season. When the club picked up Moss, he wasn’t even a first baseman. He had played two games at the position for the Boston Red Sox in 2008, and appeared in 41 games at first in the minors during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

So, Moss followed a Scott Hatteberg-esque career path as he went from failed Red Sox prospect to very good Athletics first baseman.

As a rookie, Freiman makes the major league minimum of $490,000 in 2013. The 6-foot 8 first baseman was scooped up off waivers in the final week of spring training in what at the time appeared to be a puzzling move. Freiman, after all, hadn’t made it past Double-A before this season.

Nate Freiman  is TallerThan Coco Crisp
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In April, Freiman hit just .148. Since May 1, however, he’s batting .318. Impressively, he owns a .351 (20-for-57) average at the club’s spacious Coliseum. The former Duke standout is also the ultimate team player. Between innings of games he’s not in the lineup, Freiman can often be found warming up the starting pitcher.

It’s going to be fun when the tall first baseman, who literally has to bend over to fit into the strike zone, starts launching bombs. He hit 24 last year in the Texas League, so it should only be a matter of time.

Karl Buscheck is an Oakland Athletics writer for Follow him on Twitter @KarlBuscheck or add him to your network on Google+

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