When the Oakland Athletics traded closer Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox in December of 2011, they received two prospects, Miles Head and Raul Alcantara, and an outfielder by the name of Josh Reddick, who had just 403 major league plate appearances in his three year career. Still, Reddick showed potential to be a full-time starter, and the A's started him in right field to kick off the 2012 season.
Sure enough, the A's were proven right in their assessment of Reddick, as he posted a 4.5 fWAR over 156 games in 2012, the highest fWAR of any player on the team that season, ahead of pitcher Jarrod Parker (3.5 fWAR) and rookie center fielder Yoenis Cespedes (2.9 fWAR). Reddick's 2012 season was, by all accounts, great.
On the surface, the follow up to Josh Reddick's breakout campaign in 2012 could be easily described in one word: disappointing. His fWAR dropped from 4.5 to 2.7, he missed 48 games, and he seemed to have lost all pop in his bat that he showed during the previous season.
But, how much worse was Reddick in 2013? And, what can we expect from him in 2014? To answer either of these questions, we must compare Reddick's production from the last two seasons, in all aspects of the game, and evaluate the discrepancies. First, let's start with his hitting, as that seemed to be the most egregious difference in his game from 2012:
Reddick's statistics were down almost across the board when it came to his hitting, with the exceptions of both a higher BB% and a lower K%. He dropped from about 21 plate appearances per home run to nearly 37, his HR/FB ratio took a massive drop from 14% to just under 9%, his ISO went from wonderful to slightly above average, and his wRC+ went from being 8% above league average to 8% below it. What happened?
Well, it's quite possible that the dips in production were due to injuries, as his right wrist sprains landed him on the disabled list twice in 2013. After all, his right wrist is the hand he uses to follow through on his swing, so the discomfort might have been strong enough to negatively affect his hitting this significantly.
If that's the case, then, how was the rest of Reddick's 2013 season in comparison to 2012? Let's take a look at how his baserunning fared season-over-season:
As you can see, Reddick's baserunning was, for the most part, pretty consistent over the last two years. Reddick is a good baserunner, which he has proved during his time in Oakland, and his above average speed gives him value beyond the batter's box. So, although his offensive numbers were down across the board in 2013, he maintained nearly the same value on the basepaths that he displayed in 2012.
Now, for the last part: Reddick's glove. If you've ever seen one of the cannon balls fired out of Reddick's rocket arm in right field, you probably know what this data will show. If you haven't seen Reddick's defensive prowess, well, take a look at the video below:
Now, to the numbers:
Note: All data taken from his playing time in right field only.
Reddick is a Gold Glove caliber right fielder; that much is clear. He won the award in 2012 for his 17.4 UZR and 20.2 UZR/150, and fell just short of winning it again in 2013, bested by Shane Victorino, who posted a 24.0 UZR and 30.4 UZR/150, both incredibly impressive totals. Overall, though, Reddick's 2013 season in right field was marginally better than the year before, with a small jump in UZR/150, accounting for the missed time during the season.
After all of this, what do we know about Josh Reddick? We know that his baserunning is pretty good and his fielding is excellent, but we still don't know much about his hitting. Will he return to his 2012 form this season, smashing the cover off of the ball yet again? Or, will we see a player who falls somewhere in between his powerful 2012 season and his disappointing 2013 campaign?
Currently, according to FanGraphs, the Steamer and Oliver projections for Reddick's 2014 seem to place him closer to his production last year, with fWAR totals of 2.6 and 3.0, respectively. At this point, it looks like we will have to wait for the start of this season to make a final determination of Reddick's value, especially when it comes to his hitting. With the assumption that his offseason surgery goes well, though, I would argue that we'd see a version closer to 2012 Reddick than 2013 Reddick.
Fortunately, there are only 64 more days until we'll know for sure.
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.