In 2012, the Oakland Athletics thought they’d solved the right field position going forward for a few seasons. However, 2013 and 2014 didn’t bear the fruit of that assessment, and there were hushed hopes for 2015. Even though so much went wrong last year, right field was one of the bright spots on the A’s, surprisingly. Funny how that happens in baseball.
The first part of looking forward to 2016 is assessing the season that just ended, and we’re now going over the team’s results, position by position. That’s 11 articles in the 11 days, finishing before the end of the World Series and by the opening of free agency. By Halloween, you’ll know exactly what the A’s need for 2016. We promise. We’ve looked at the infield already last week, and now we move on to the outfield this week.
Remember, Billy Beane is no longer the Oakland general manager: That role is now David Forst’s to fill, as Beane was promoted to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations at the end of the team’s worst season since 1997. It will be up to Forst now to see if he can get the A’s that elusive 10th World Series title that has haunted the team over its last 10 playoffs appearances since the 1989 MLB championship.
Josh Reddick had a Comeback Player of the Year kind of season for the A’s in 2015. Oakland was able to start him in right field 134 times, meaning the position was all his with a few days off here and there. No one else on the team got more than nine starts at the position for the A’s.
Behind Reddick’s resurgence, Oakland RFs finished seventh in OPS (.744) among American League teams. However, Reddick was even better than that on his own, posting a .781 OPS that was the best full-season mark of his career. You can easily see just how much the other A’s playing the position dragged down the team numbers in just 28 starts—we’re looking at you again, Sam Fuld.
Defensively, no one challenges Reddick’s arm much anymore, but he still managed to make six assists throughout the year. His four fielding errors—and one throwing error—didn’t rank well in the AL, however. Overall then, Oakland RFs were toward the bottom of the league defensively.
Now, here’s the issue with Reddick: After hitting .272 with 20 home runs and 77 RBI in 2014, the A’s have a trade commodity on their hands considering Reddick’s salary status. He made $4.1 million last year, and that will rise in 2016 with arbitration. But since Reddick is a free agent in 2017, the Oakland brass may decide to flip him for some younger assets and find a cheaper replacement in the free agent market. With the infield set for 2016, it’s the outfield that will need some attention in the winter months.
Whether Reddick is back with the team or not in 2016 remains to be seen, but it was great to see a fan favorite make a nice comeback in 2015 for Oakland—even if the team finished in last place.