OAKLAND -– The composition of the A’s roster has changed, and manager Bob Melvin says the style of play may adapt accordingly.
Gone are bashers such as Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss, who combined for 54 homers and 179 RBI in 2014. Both were traded early in the offseason.
Consider that Josh Reddick is the leading homer and RBI man among returning A’s players, and he posted just 12 and 54 in those categories, respectively. Include the newcomers, and Billy Butler’s 66 RBI last season were the most for any player projected to be on Oakland’s Opening Night roster.
Those stats simply won’t frighten opposing pitchers. So it’s no surprise when Melvin says the A’s need production from hitters 1 through 9. But he added that the A’s probably will need to get more creative offensively this season.
“I think it gives us the opportunity to do some things differently this year,” Melvin said before Saturday’s FanFest. “I think this is more of a group that maybe tries to run a little more, hit and run, and do some things we haven’t in the past.”
To be accurate, some of the same things were said leading into last season following the addition of speed-burning outfielder Craig Gentry. But then the A’s morphed into a scoring juggernaut in the first half of 2014, ranking second in the majors in runs before the All-Star break. It didn’t make sense to get crazy on the bases because the offense was thriving. But when the runs dried up in the second half, the A’s struggled, and it didn’t help that Gentry and fellow speedster Coco Crisp were nursing injuries.
Crisp and Gentry both return and are healthy. Newcomer Ben Zobrist has notched double-digit steals in each of the last six seasons. Outfielder Sam Fuld runs well as do shortstop Marcus Semien and third baseman Brett Lawrie, who are both new to the team. The potential is there to get more active on the base paths.
After an offseason that produced so much roster turnover, Melvin will use spring training to try to figure out how to best utilize everyone on the diamond.
“It’s my job to acclimate to the group we have here,” he said. “We’re not gonna jam a square peg in a round hole.”