Beane has tried to bring in big-name power for the last three years. But for whatever reason, whether it be injuries, the ballpark or weak lineups, the results just don’t match up to the dollars spent. Cust, on the other hand, has demonstrated consistent power and on-base production at a fraction of the cost. During the same three-year period in the chart below, Cust clearly shows the ability to consistently hit for power in Oakland’s pitcher-friendly ballpark. Billy Beane is aware of the value of having a player like Cust. The following information is interesting and is a good reason to bring back Cust.
Oakland A's Cost Of Offensive Power Production (2007-2009)
- Bold/Italics denotes team leader
As you can see, the A’s spend almost 21 million compared to 3.5 million they paid Cust. Over a three-year period, since Cust joined the A’s, he led the A’s in 11 categories. People say that Cust is slow, but he has scored more runs than any other Oakland player in the past three years despite being pinch run for numerous times late in games. In fact, if you look at Cust’s Minor League career, he has always been at or near the top in runs scored. He is an average runner who has reached base 649 times over the last three years – more than any other Oakland player.
As a power hitter, here is the list of at bats per home run in the Major Leagues the past three years and you will see Cust is in the Top 10 with some formidable players who play in better ballparks to hit in with better offensive lineups.
Cust is also criticized for not being clutch because he doesn’t drive enough runs in. Here’s a look at the same home run hitters the percentage of runners who score from third with less than 2 outs when that batter is up. Also reflected is the total number of base runners for each player’s plate appearance as well as pitches per plate appearance for the last three years alone with the MLB ranking in parenthesis.
You can also see that all of these guys have had more opportunities to drive in runs as they have more base runners available. Another valuable trait of Cust is his pitches per plate appearance. This skill is not as effective in Oakland because you need multiple players working counts which has a compounding effect on opposing pitchers and simultaneously increases the teams on base percentage as well as other offensive statistics.
To sum it up, Oakland’s problem is not Cust. He can actually be part of the solution. Oakland’s problem is they need more base runners and offense so they have more scoring opportunities. If we had six players like Cust, we would have a formidable offense.
As stated, I think Beane is no dummy and he knows how valuable Cust is in Oakland. We will need a veteran presence on the team and Cust not only provides that, but he produces as well. Why not keep Cust long term as a building block with Taylor and Carter? With the recent trade for Kevin Kouzmanoff, our offense is continuing to improve.
There might be some truth to the old saying, "You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone." I think Beane knows what he’s got and we should too!