The Oakland A’s are using the depth in their dugout to their advantage. On Tuesday, manager Bob Melvin told the press that three Athletics will play first base throughout the 2014 season. This platoon will be made up of Brandon Moss, Daric Barton, and Alberto Callaspo.
Callaspo is the questionable choice out of these three. He is usually a second or third baseman – sometimes a shortstop – but never a first baseman. He has had to learn to play first base this spring, and even though he struggled in the beginning, Callaspo has worked hard to master this new position. He played in four games at first base, and over those 20 innings, he has not committed a single error and has a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Since both Moss and Barton are left-handed hitters, Callaspo – who is a right-handed batter – will play first base against left-handed starters. Throughout his career in the MLB, Callaspo is .300 against left-handed pitchers. It will be interesting to see how he does during the regular season under high pressure situations at this new position.
Since Callaspo will face lefties, that leaves Barton and Moss to switch off against right-handed starters. Moss was the Athletics’ starting first baseman in 2013 and many would think that he would start off the season at first base. However, Barton is a defensive powerhouse. Even though Moss is also a good defender at first base, it is very likely that he will start out in the DH position for the start of the season since he is much more of a power hitter than Barton.
This spring, Moss was on fire. He had 4 home runs and 14 RBIs over 40 at-bats which resulted in a .375 batting average and .725 SLG. If he is able to bat like this during the regular season, Moss will be a great designated hitter for the Athletics.
With three players assigned to play first base, this means that a tough cut will have to be made somewhere else on the team. Many believe that a catcher will be cut. When John Jaso had been previously predicted to play in the DH position for the Oakland A’s, it had made sense to have three catchers. But now that Moss can easily fill the DH roll, it does not make as much sense.
Catcher Stephen Vogt will most likely be dropped down to Triple-A since he was the only brought up last year mid-season from Triple-A as the third string catcher. Additionally, both Jaso and Vogt are left handed hitters, but Jaso has more experience in the MLB and is better offensively than Vogt. Derek Norris will be the Oakland A’s second catcher since he is a great defensive player and is a right-handed batter. Like at first base, Norris and Jaso will switch off catching based on the opponents’ starting pitcher.
Once the season begins, Melvin plans on mixing and matching the first basemen based on their various skills when it comes to batting and fielding. It just depends on what type of pitcher the Athletics will be facing.