As trade season approaches and a Josh Reddick extension remains absent, we're faced with the reality that one of the A's longest tenured players might not be long for the green and gold. Lost in the annual Reddick wars of AN is the fact that almost everyone on this board loves the guy, and with good reason.
Reddick originally came to the A's prior to the magical 2012 season. He was a decent prospect, even ranking ahead of Mike Trout on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects. Injuries kept him off the field in Boston, but once he arrived in Oakland, he put most of his injury woes behind him on his way to a very successful first season.
Reddick was far from perfect. His propensity to swing and miss combined with pitchers that adjusted to his spectacular first half lead to a subpar second half of 2012 and for a while, he became a defense-first player. That's all nice and dandy when you're a defensive star like Reddick was, a guy with great range due to his perfect instincts and a rocket cannon for an arm.
But being a great defender wasn't enough for Reddick. He saw a flaw in his game, and even though it was non-fatal, went and fixed it. Before the change, his long swing prevented contact, especially at high velocity fastballs up in the zone. In 2012, he struck out 22.4% of the time. By no means a crazy number, but not especially low either. Now, he's a guy who can catch up to seemingly anything and he's an ideal hitter in any situation. He turned his the most problematic part of his game into a strength, striking out a tiny 11.7% of the time this season. He did so without selling out on power, too. His isolated slugging has dropped, but it's still beyond acceptable (around .170 the past few seasons) and he's always a threat to go deep. Increasing contact without losing your presence as a deep threat is a rare and important feat.
Which brings us to Semien. Reddick's change has been covered in the media, but it's just not quite as attention grabbing, and maybe deservedly so, as Semien's transformation. That's probably because Semien's turnaround was so fast and so drastic and beyond that, it was vital. Semien wouldn't be long for baseball if he weren't an adequate fielder. And that makes Reddick's change arguably more impressive.
Reddick's value was still average or above when his bat was lumbering slowly through the zone, often below the pitches he sought to hit. He could have just kept trying to mash every pitch and still would have made a nice living. But he didn't sit there and do nothing, he wasn't complacent, he put all his effort into improving the worst part of his game, and boy did he succeed.
So regardless of how you feel about a contract extension, remember he's been nothing short of a great Oakland Athletic. It's rare we get to see a player stick around for this long and even if it still like he's going to be gone too soon, we should appreciate the awesome run he gave us. You probably already know that and you probably already love him, but here's a reminder: you should.