After Conner Capel shined for the Oakland A’s in the last week of the 2022 season, he entered 2023 looking to build off of his success and be a bigger contributor for the team. Unfortunately for him, Capel struggled to stay consistent at the big league level and struggled with his strikeouts and now finds himself as a free agent
Capel was claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals in September of 2022.
What were the expectations?
Capel was expected to add immediate depth into Oakland’s outfield with a spot on the opening day roster after impressing in his short 2022 stint with the team to end the season where he hit two home runs and batted .371 in 13 games. He was also expected to make an impact with his speed defensively and on the base paths where he’d been predominantly known as well as his left-handed bat.
After starting the first month of the 2023 season on the big league roster and striking out in 22 of 66 at-bats, Capel was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas. Capel was called back up for a week at the end of June but recorded two hits and added three more strikeouts in seven at-bats before he was optioned back to Las Vegas on July 4. He was designated for assignment by the club at the end of August and elected free agency at the end of the season. Capel was removed from the 40-man roster on August 30 and elected for free agency on November 6. He appeared in 32 games while hitting .260/.372/.329 with a 109 wRC+. He appeared in 92 games at Las Vegas where he produced an 84 wRC+ in 391 plate appearances.
What went right? What went wrong?
The biggest thing that went wrong for Capel in 2023 was his swing-and-miss numbers. Capel struck out 29.1% of his at-bats while the MLB average is hovering around the 21% - 22% mark. His hard-hit rate was also down from years past. In his first three MLB stints, Capel had a HardH% of 31.8%, 31.3% and 32.1%. In 2023, Capel hit just 18.8% of balls at 95 MPH or faster. Perhaps the biggest problem for Capel with the A’s though was the sheer number of outfielders that the team had at their disposal. Capel was eventually crowded out of the picture and eventually out of the organization altogether.
Capel is just 26-years old and probably won’t have a problem latching on with another club before spring training as a lefty bat that has had some success at the Major League level, granted in a very small sample.