The Oakland Athletics have gotten off to a fast start in spring training, winning four out of their first six games (and tying one). Yet the people leading them to these wins are not the ones to which A’s fans would normally attribute wins. As always, however, there are unexpected under-performers as well.
Lets take a look at the early Spring surprises for the Oakland Athletics.
Stephen Vogt: Vogt is truly playing for a spot on the opening day roster. He needs an exceptional spring training performance to prove to the organization that they should indeed adopt a three-catcher system and that such a system would not be detrimental to their overall batting situation. So far Vogt has pushed his case successfully. He began spring training with hits in four of his first seven at-bats, giving him the best batting average on the team. If he can keep this up to a certain extent, get used to saying his name in the big leagues.
Josh Reddick: I am not sure which is more surprising: Reddick’s two ridiculous catches or his current batting average. The catches were pretty spectacular, but Reddick, even if only over seven at-bats, is all of a sudden hitting for average; he has four hits in his first 10 at-bats. Any A’s fan can appreciate this miraculous yet likely short lived success with the stick. If Reddick can start hitting more for average, he can become a real force for the A’s, because he has already proven his exceptional defensive prowess.
Billy Burns: Young Billy Burns has already given himself a chance to make the Oakland Athletics opening day roster. He has remarkable speed and base running ability, things that make him so valuable to his coaches. The question was whether he would be able to get on base to use this ability. So far he has surprised people with his ability to get on base, with the most hits of anyone on the Athletics. His team leading five hits have allowed him to use his speed and steal five bases. Burns also has the most at bats on the Athletics, which means that the organization is giving him a real chance to show what he is made of.
Eric Sogard: Sogard is not the most powerful or awe inspiring player on the baseball diamond. Last season, however, he was one of the most consistent hitters for the Oakland Athletics. He has not shown this consistency thus far in Spring Training, going hitless in his first nine at bats. In 2013′s spring training, Sogard fought his way onto the team through stellar hitting. He may not need to hit quite as well, but he does not have the raw talent others have, and will need to prove last season was no fluke. Although he will likely find himself in Oakland come April, he will need to get some hits to combat the tough infield competition.
Tommy Milone: Milone will also need a good spring training performance to be able to call himself and Athletic come opening day. After epitomizing consistency over the first couple months of the season, Milone struggled in the second half. It was almost expected that he would bounce back and reclaim his starting spot this spring training but he hasn’t made a very strong case so far. In his first outing, he allowed four hits and three earned runs over two innings. Not the best start for someone who needs to be at his best to make the top 25.
Jarrod Parker: Parker could very well be the opening day starter for the Oakland Athletics. He is arguably their best starter and has the potential to grow even more. That is why his first spring training outing was so surprising. He didn’t even make it out of the second inning, allowing six earned runs in 1.1 innings. Most likely he will bounce back from this very sub-par start but it is a little bit worrisome. In fairness, even Clayton Kershaw is having spring training troubles, so it probably isn’t something too serious. He just needs to come back in top form by the time the regular season rolls around.
Lastly, take all this information with a grain (or two) of salt. Not only is this only spring training, but we also have only a very small sample size to take from. No matter how interesting and insightful Spring Training can be, it is still the regular season and playoffs that really matter.