Tuesday, May 29, 2012

By Josh! Reddick was a steal!

A quick perusal at the Fangraphs' leaderboard led to a click of MLB right fielders. The leaders seemed right. Ethier is having a great season and is at the top. Beltran has been a great fit for the Cards and is belting the ball. Then listed after those two were Josh Reddick of the Oakland Athletics and Stanton and Joyce from the two Florida teams. After nodding inwardly at the results, the reality struck. Wait. Josh Reddick!? After that initial reaction sunk in, the memory of the recent series against the Yanks sunk in. Yes, Josh Reddick, is an island of productivity in a sea of offensive woes in Oakland.

This new knowledge comes a few days after writing about Lowrie down in Houston. Could it be the Red Sox have made two of the worst trades of the year in Lowrie and Reddick? It is hard to fault the Red Sox here. They needed to address the bullpen after losing Papelbon and deciding to put Bard in the rotation. The trades for Melancon and Bailey make sense, if not in hindsight. Neither have worked out thus far in Boston, but that is the way it goes sometimes in baseball.

Lowrie and Reddick were both considered fungible players. They were depth players with the Red Sox. And the Boston team has made good use of Aviles and the combination of Ross,Sweeney and Nava. But none of those combinations have been as valuable as Lowrie and Reddick have been for their new teams. And Reddick is only 25 years old. So perhaps his success will ping the Boston team longer.

Josh Reddick has burst on the scene this year with his fourteen homers and .906 OPS. Those figures are all the more remarkable for where Reddick has to play home games and for the fact that the lineup around him has been a ghost town. With Yoenis Cespedes on the shelf with an injury, Reddick is just about the only threat in that lineup. His 2.1 rWAR is so far ahead of any of his teammates, that they are like distant specks in the rear view mirror.

Reddick was never really touted as a prospect. Yes, he did place 75th in Baseball America's list of top prospects in 2010, but that was his one and only appearance on that list. He was, after all, only a 16th round draft choice by the Red Sox back in 2006 out of a small school like Middle Georgia College. Yes, he had a .500 slugging percentage in his minor league career, but his overall OPS in the minors of .832 did not jump up and grab anyone. 

But let's put this one in the plus column for Billy Beane as the A's saw something they liked and were, to this point, obviously correct. And Reddick is a complete package. His patience at the plate could use some improvement. His 8.3 percent walk rate is augmented a bit by some intentional passes and he is swinging at 31.5 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. But he runs well and has stolen five bases without getting thrown out once. Fangraphs gives him 1.3 runs for his base running. And Reddick has had nothing but positive fielding numbers in his brief MLB career. And he already has five outfield assists this season.

Reddick is *only* batting .276 right now, but considering that his BABIP is also low at .276, there should not be any regression as the season goes along. For a guy hitting a lot of homers, his strikeout rate is decent at only 18.5 percent. So it is not like strikeouts will sink his season either. Reddick's numbers look totally legit and only a concerted effort by opposing pitchers to stop pitching to him can derail his season power numbers. Getting Cespedes back will help too.

Sometimes, a change to a new organization can bring the flower out of a budding young player. That seems to be the case with Reddick moving to Oakland. Josh Reddick has become a very fine player in the American League and if you are into fantasy baseball, you might want to consider keeping him. The Athletics got a steal in Josh Reddick. He has been terrific.

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