The Oakland A’s acquired first baseman Kyle Blanks from the San Diego Padres this past week and designated Daric Barton for assignment. When Blanks was drafted back in 2004, he was predicted to be a huge power hitter. However, his major league career has been riddled with injuries. Having bounced around between Triple-A and the majors for most of his baseball career, Blanks has never played in more than 88 games in the major leagues. So the question becomes: Will Blanks be successful in Oakland?
Since Blanks is a first baseman, he will be platooning at first with Brandon Moss and Alberto Callaspo. However, Moss has been doing so well at the plate that it makes sense to keep him in the lineup whether it be at first or as the designated hitter. Additionally, Callaspo has been a consistent hitter and is a versatile infield player who just learned how to play first base this year. Blanks will definitely have to prove that he has what it takes both defensively and offensively if he wants to be in the lineup on a consistent basis.
Even though Blanks has only had 11 at-bats so far this season, he has had three hits and one run resulting in a .273 AVG so far for 2014. His MLB career statistics are pretty standard with a .229 AVG and a .311 on-base percentage. However, his nine year minor league career statistics are great with a .302 batting average and a .516 slugging percentage. Additionally, the Oakland A’s need another right handed hitter in the dugout to hit against left handed pitchers, and last year Blanks hit .282/.373/.456 against lefties. If he is able to show off that power bat this season, Blanks will do well offensively for the A’s.
Now, at 6’6” and 265 pounds, Blanks’ size alone will make him a force to be reckoned with at first base. With a .995 career fielding percentage at first, he will provide some great defense for the Oakland A’s. It is key that Blanks is a good defensive first baseman because Barton was better on defense than Moss or Callaspo. With Barton gone, Blanks will have to assume that role and be the strong defensive man at first.
Blanks has all the tools to succeed. He has a strong bat, he is great on defense, and, as A’s starter Jesse Chavez told the press earlier this week, Blanks attitude and demeanor is a good fit for the Athletics.
However, the key for Blanks is that he stays healthy. The past six years have been peppered with injuries. This could be due to the fact that the Padres had Blanks playing both at first base and in the outfield. This year, Blanks is finally healthy and playing at his full potential. Since the Athletics will only have Blanks playing at first or possibly in the DH position – depending on how well he is hitting, the likelihood of incurring an injury goes way down.
Blanks seems like a great fit for the Oakland A’s. He has the power bat, his size and skill at first base will give him that defensive edge, and he is finally healthy. The only way to actually know if Blanks will succeed is to see him play with Oakland. But, I must say, the chances are looking good for Blanks this year.