Josh Reddick is Having a Breakout Season in Oakland

Wednesday August 8th, 2012

Sam Evans: When the A’s acquired Josh Reddick from Boston this offseason, he appeared to be in place simply to just eat some at-bats for a rebuilding ballclub. However, in 2012, Reddick has finally tapped into some of his raw power, and as a result, he’s on pace to have a 5+ WAR season. Josh Reddick is one of the main reasons Oakland is contending this year, and Red Sox fans have to wonder if their team correctly evaluated Reddick’s talent. If Reddick can prove that his first 105 games haven’t been a fluke, he has a chance to win the A.L. Comeback Player of the Year award, and earn himself a long-term contract.

After a few years in the Boston organization after being drafted in the 17th round of the 2006 MLB Amateur draft, Reddick kept hitting, no matter what level the Red Sox put him at. Reddick has always had a great ability to adjust to the league he was playing in, even if it never happened for him right away. Reddick bounced back and forth between Pawtucket and Fenway Park for the majority of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. In 2011, Reddick got his big chance with Boston, playing in eighty-seven games. Reddick hit .280/.327/.457, which is not an awful line by any account.

During the 2011-2012 offseason, new Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington shipped Reddick, Miles Head, and Raul Alcantara to Oakland for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney. The Red Sox look foolish at this moment, due to Reddick’s breakout season, Head shooting up the prospect rankings, and Bailey and Sweeney not really contributing in Boston. However, it didn’t seem like a terrible trade for Boston at the time, and even Billy Beane can’t win every trade. But apparently he won this one hands-down.

Josh Reddick was snubbed from the All-Star team this year. Not that the All-Star team really matters or anything, but Reddick definitely deserved a spot on the roster. Other than Yoenis Cespedes, Reddick has really been the biggest surprise in the Oakland outfield. He may be only hitting .258, but some of that has to be due to the exceedingly large amount of room in foul territory at the Oakland Coliseum. Reddick is a left-handed hitter, but he hasn’t really struggled with neither lefties nor righties this year. When Josh Reddick has pulled the ball this year, he’s hit .452 with eighteen home runs and nineteen other extra-base hits.

On defense, Reddick has been very fun to watch. As a former center fielder, Reddick’s athleticism flashes on almost every ball he chases. His “Spiderman” catch earned him national attention, and is considered by some as one of the best catches of the year. Reddick should be able to play above-average defense in a corner outfield position for at least several more years in the majors.

Reddick has always been an athletic outfielder. The main reason why Boston didn’t think he could become a big leaguer was probably his raw approach at the plate, and his weaknesses for chasing after bad pitches. With Oakland, Reddick has continued to show his athleticism in the outfield and has started to lay off of more bad pitches. Reddick currently is sporting a 9.4 BB% and a 23.0 K%, which are much improved over his 2011 walk and strikeout rates (6.8% and 18.0%). With all of the swing and miss in Reddick’s swing, he is always going to have a high strikeout rate. However, to see him walking almost ten percent of the time is very encouraging.

Despite all of his raw power, Reddick had never hit twenty-four homers in any of his seasons before 2012. This year, despite playing in the extreme pitcher-friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum, Reddick has twenty-four homers, and ten of them have gone of four hundred feet. Reddick’s power is real, and even playing in Oakland won’t prevent Reddick from getting his share of homers, as he has proven this year.

Looking at awards in the middle of August is sort of silly. Not only are there almost two full months left of baseball, but the truth is, these awards really don’t matter all that much. However, Reddick has made a serious case for the American League Comeback Player of the Year award in 2012.

Let’s look at four other candidates this year, and why none of them have as good of a case for this award as Reddick:

  • Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins: Plouffe has come out of almost nowhere this year to hit nineteen homers for Minnesota. Nonetheless, his defense has been shabby and major league pitchers seem to have figured him out since his tremendous month of June.
  • Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox: Dunn was probably the consensus preseason selection for predicting the winner of this award. In 2011, Dunn was just horrendous, which was surprising given that he had never had such a terrible season in his previous seasons. This year, Dunn has already hit thirty-one homers, but due to his awful hit tool (.205 BA AVG) and absurd amount of strikeouts (34.3 K%), Dunn hasn’t been that much better of a hitter than Kyle Seager, for example.
  •  Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox: Without Peavy’s awesome rebound this year, the White Sox likely wouldn’t be close to hanging around the Tigers in the N.L. Central. Peavy has stayed healthy this year, and it has resulted in a 3.34 FIP and a 4.32 K/BB. However, the reason Peavy doesn’t deserve this award is not because of his performance this year, but because his performance last year was actually almost as good according to his peripherals.
  •   Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays: Encarnacion is probably Reddick’s biggest threat for this award right now. Encarnacion is sporting 161 wRC+ with twenty-nine homers and twelve stolen bases. However, his defense is still bad at third and acceptable at first. Also, Encarnacion did hit .272/.334/.453 last year.

Whether he wins Comeback Player of the Year or not, the A’s have to be thrilled with the production they have gotten this season from Reddick. He has quietly turned into an above-average major leaguer, and he deserves a lot of credit for Oakland’s recent success. I still think it’s too early to see if there is a “New Moneyball” in Oakland, but thanks to Josh Reddick, the A’s certainly look like early winners in the Andrew Bailey trade.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of*)

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***


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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

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