Brandon Moss and platoon splits

Scott Halleran

With the Athletics' acquisition of Kyle Blanks, is a platoon situation at first base really necessary?

(Editor's note: Please welcome Randy to Athletics Nation! He is a writer for sites including Beyond the Box Score, The Outside Corner, and Call to the Pen, and he is joining the crew here at AN. We look forward to reading your thoughts on the green and gold, Randy!)

One of the more intriguing trade rumors of late, really one of the only ones currently making the rounds in general, was that of the Oakland Athletics attempting to swing a deal for San Diego Padres first baseman Kyle Blanks. Blanks was recently sent back down to Triple-A, just before the A's were able to acquire him on Thursday afternoon. Even with Blanks struggling mightily this year, such an acquisition will almost certainly lead to a continued decrease in playing time against left-handed pitching for Brandon Moss. Such a situation may not even be warranted.

Reason being, we all know how much Bob Melvin and the A's love their platoon splits. It's the reason Derek Norris hasn't gotten the kind of playing time he deserves, because the club needs to get that lefty John Jaso up against right-handed pitching, despite Norris' massive success this year. Moss has experienced a large amount of success in his own right, even without a platoon situation.

This is what Moss has done to this point in the year, courtesy of FanGraphs:

PA AVG OBP OPS ISO K% BB% wRC+
vs. LHP 27 .320 .370 .850 .160 33.3% 3.7% 142
vs. RHP 128 .270 .359 .882 .252 16.4% 9.4% 142

Obviously Moss hasn't seen a great deal of time against lefties, due to the platoon obsession in Oakland, but he's performed well against them nonetheless. His power has come almost exclusively against right-handed pitchers, with seven of his eight homers coming against righties and that ISO being more than 90 points higher against right-handed pitchers, but he's managed to get on base against lefties as well in that minuscule sample size.

Moss has managed to turn in a career year to this point, although it's only the middle of May, and he can thank an increasing contact rate for the bulk of that success. His contact percentage is almost six points higher than it was last season, despite actually swinging at a higher rate. His swinging strike rate is also down a couple of points. He's putting the ball in play and finding success. You could very easily make an argument that he should be getting time as an everyday first baseman, rather than a platoon guy, at least until his splits were more balanced and there was an indication of whether or not he could handle it.

By comparison, Kyle Blanks is obviously not having the greatest of years. He has only 10 plate appearances at the Major League level this season, recording a pair of hits and striking out three times. Going back to last year, his splits against lefties are decent enough, as he hit .282, but he also struck out about 25 percent of the time against left-handers. While he might bring versatility to the A's, as a guy who can grab some time both at first base and in the outfield, he's the type that should come off the bench, not steal starts from Moss.

At the end of the day, Bob Melvin isn't going to change his current philosophy. The A's have experienced plenty of success in the last two years and this platoon nonsense isn't going anywhere, despite the fact that a player like Brandon Moss probably deserves the opportunity to showcase his skill set against both lefties and righties, especially considering the fact that he's off to perhaps the best start of his career.

***All stats via FanGraphs

Randy Holt is a staff writer for Athletics Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.

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