The Oakland Athletics are off to a terrific start this season. They’ve gotten some of the best starting pitching anywhere in the league, which has helped to overshadow their struggling bullpen early on. The offense has been there as well, with the exception of one very notable player. That player is Josh Reddick who has gotten off to an absolutely abysmal start for the defending American League West champions.
Prior to Friday’s game action, Reddick was hitting under .100, at just .098 and had reached base at a rate of just .196. He had recorded just four hits on the season, had no home runs, and had only knocked in one in 41 total at bats. Perhaps Friday’s tilt with the Houston Astros represented a potential turnaround for the outfielder.
Reddick had what was easily his best game of the season, recording three hits in four at bats, nearly equaling his total production from his entire season to this point. He finally flashed the power in hitting a home run, which was a two-run shot. His Friday evening performance bumped his average on the year up to .156 and drove that OBP all the way up to .240. Could this be a sign of things to come from Reddick?
It’s probably too early to declare that. Reddick’s problems may go beyond a simple early season slump. Since breaking in with Oakland in 2012, it hasn’t been to difficult to discern just what the A’s have in him. He doesn’t walk a lot, and he strikes out plenty. However, somewhat alarming is the fact that he’s been more selective in swinging at more pitches inside of the strike zone, and less outside of it, than at any point in his career. Yet, he’s making less contact on pitches inside the zone and overall (just a 72 percent contact rate).
Reddick has found himself overwhelmed by opposing fastballs more than anything. His fastball runs above average is well into the negative. His spray charts at this point in the season don’t look pretty either. He’s hitting the majority of the balls he puts in play on the ground, and he’s pulling the lot of them. He’s having a particularly difficult time getting the ball the other way. There are some real issues here for Reddick.
Could Friday night be a sign of coming out of his prolonged slump? It’s possible. A game like that can serve a similar purpose to a stint in the minors. But until we see Reddick’s ability to make contact return to form, it could be a bit longer before we see him break back into the form he’s flashed in the last couple of seasons.