In our article two days ago “previewing” the 2013 ALDS, we covered how the Oakland A’s built a successful team: the front office focused on bench depth, finding cheap players who provided good value in limited, a.k.a. special, circumstances. The most common way the A’s specialize is through platooning. You know what platooning is and how it works, so all you need is a green-and-tan table that shows you how well it’s worked for Oakland.
The A’s don’t platoon at shortstop or third; Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson are locked in on the left side of the infield. At every other position, though, the A’s platoon to some degree. Above I calculated the combined stats for the primary platooners at catcher, first base, second base and something called OF/DH Monster. I’ll get to that in a bit. Once I calculated the platoons’ combined batting average, OBP and slugging, I looked for similar production from players around the league. Since the plate appearances don’t line up, I looked for matching rate production over similar counting stats. Look and be mildly impressed.
Now, about that OF/DH Monster. The A’s have five outfielders: Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Seth Smith, and Chris Young. Normally, four of them play in a game–three in the outfield, one at DH. (Sometimes Brandon Moss goes to the outfield, which is why he and Nate Freiman had so many combined PAs.) I added their stats together, all five of them, and divided the totals by four, for the four spots in the lineup they occupy.
They average out to four Alex Gordons! Or four Alejando De Azas, when you account for the speed of Crisp and Young! The A’s wrung four above-average starters out of a group that is three-fifths disappointing. Cespedes and Reddick have been down all year, and Chris Young is hitting just awful. Of course defense plays a huge part in that WAR figure. Mayhaps I’ll look at that later in this ALDS. Let’s hope it lasts.