The Oakland A's two most significant offensive acquisitions this off-season were LF Khris Davis and IF Jed Lowrie. Both players enter spring training as projected everyday members of the A's line-up. But how will they impact an A's offense that averaged 4.28 runs per game last season and finished seventh in the league in runs scored?
Davis' main impact on the A's line-up is the addition of his power bat. A's left fielders were the second-least productive in the American League last season with a 606 OPS and a .338 SLG. The A's ran through several players in left: Sam Fuld, Mark Canha, Coco Crisp, Ben Zobrist, Jake Smolinski, Craig Gentry, to name a few, and none of them took hold of the everyday job. Davis appeared in 121 games for Milwaukee last season and posted an 828 OPS with 27 homers. He was particularly effective during the second half of the season, when he hit 21 homers in 71 games. The A's hope that second-half is a sign that Davis is entering his prime as a power hitter.
As a hitter, Davis has a similar skillset to former A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Davis is aggressive early in the count and has power to all fields. He doesn't have Cespedes' defensive value, however, as Davis has limited arm strength. However, Davis' presence as an everyday player in left field will allow the A's to use Crisp and Fuld in center or as late-inning defensive replacements/pinch-runners rather than having to use them in an everyday role. Fuld's speed and Crisp's combination of speed and on-base abilities will be assets for the A's off of the bench.
The addition of Davis also allows the A's to use Canha in a super-utility role, plugging him into a variety of spots on the field (left, right, 1B and DH), depending on the match-ups. A line-up with Davis and Canha will give the A's a much more potent middle-of-the-order against left-handed pitching than they had in past years.
Lowrie's impact on the A's everyday line-up should also be significant, as long as he is healthy. Lowrie missed much of last season with a thumb injury and has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career. His two healthiest seasons did come with the A's in 2013 and 2014, however. What Lowrie brings to the line-up is his ability to switch-hit and get on-base at a solid clip. He should slot in behind Billy Burns at the top of the A's everyday line-up and will give the A's two switch-hitters to start the order. Lowrie's best season came with the A's in 2013. He hasn't matched that production the last two seasons, but the A's are counting on him returning to form to upgrade at second base, where they had a 642 OPS last season, even with Zobrist playing 34 games there.
Lowrie also gives the A's some insurance if shortstop Marcus Semien or third baseman Danny Valencia are hurt or struggle. Lowrie isn't a plus defender, but he has plenty of experience at both short and third and could slide over to either position should the A's have a need. That will allow the A's to avoid having to rush prospects such as Renato Nunez or Chad Pinder to the big leagues before they are ready.