The Oakland A’s are getting back some help on the final day of the regular season. The team announced Sunday morning that they activated Chad Pinder from the 10-day injured list.
The super-sub went on the IL two weeks ago with a strained hamstring, and the timing couldn’t have been worse. It was the day after star third baseman Matt Chapman went on the IL, and that absence would have finally opened a path to regular playing time for Pinder for the first time all summer. Instead, he joined Chapman on the shelf, and free agent Jake Lamb was brought in to plug the hot corner — which he has done admirably.
But now, the A’s have their versatile utilityman back. While he doesn’t own any one position in the lineup, Pinder is an excellent defensive outfielder (especially on the corners), and at least a competent and experienced one in the infield (especially 3B and 2B). At the plate his batting line is below average for the second straight year, but Statcast tells a different story. First, his raw numbers:
Pinder: .226/.281/.396, 86 wRC+, 2 HR, 7.0% BB, 21.1% Ks
Not great. However, his 92.6 mph average exit velocity is second-best on the team after just Chapman, and his .337 xwOBA is slightly above league-average. Those aren’t small-sample flukes, as for the last three seasons he’s been around 91 mph or higher in exit velo and at least average on xwOBA. He hits the ball as hard as anyone on the A’s, and he also isn’t striking out too much.
The return of Pinder just before the playoffs isn’t a surprise, as it was reported as likely several days ago, but it’s welcome news for a club that’s otherwise limping into the postseason ever since clinching their spot in the tournament a week ago. Oakland has lost five of its last seven games, entering the final contest against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
To make room on the active roster, pitcher James Kaprielian was optioned down. The top prospect made his second career MLB appearance in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader, and allowed two runs to score (plus three inherited runners) while recording five outs including three via strikeout.