Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/15/14

When the Athletics sent Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to the Red Sox for Josh Reddick and prospects, many scratched their heads in digital print. Why would the Athletics send their closer out the door for a swap in fourth outfielders? Didn’t the Red Sox just pull a theft using their fourth outfielder?

Like the ‘tweener forward’ label in basketball, nothing can sting a player and wreck his future like the ‘fourth outfielder’ moniker. Does Reddick deserve the title?

It’s tempting to make this a discussion about defense. Coming up in the minor leagues, Reddick played a lot of center, and scouts were often divided about his ability to continue playing center going forward. Nobody doubted his arm, which is a plus tool for him, but his range was in question. He’s only played 873+ innings in the outfield so far in the majors, but UZR/150 loves his defense so far. Then again, the Red Sox chose to play him in right field more often than center, even in 2010 when Jacoby Ellsbury was injured all year.

Maybe he’s a right fielder. Does that matter?

The Athletics need all sorts of outfielders, but the ‘fourth outfielder’ label isn’t always about specific teams. David DeJesus has gotten the label before, and he was the Athletics’ third outfielder last year. David Murphy is a fourth outfielder if there ever has been one, but because of a time-share in center, he got the third-most plate appearances in the Rangers’ outfield last year.

These names should help us define a fourth outfielder, though. Defense does matter — a fourth outfielder, like the tweener forward who isn’t big enough to rebound at power forward or quick enough to guard small forwards, doesn’t have the glove for center or the bat for the corners. Either that, or he has poor platoon splits that aren’t likely to improve.

Josh Reddick doesn’t have the bat for the corner? His career .248/.290/.416 seems to suggest he doesn’t, but that’s only 403 plate appearances of evidence… and it really isn’t that far from the average line for right fielders in the American League last year either (.267/.337/.431).

But Reddick’s minor league stats suggest that there’s more on the way. Since Reddick hit High-A ball, he’s had an ISO over .200, with a high of .277 in Triple-A last year. That’s much better power than the .168 ISO he’s shown so far in the Major Leagues, and it jives with his scouting reports, which have always lauded his uppercut swing and power. Add in a little power, and Reddick’s projection starts to look exactly like the average corner outfielder. And don’t penalize Reddick too much for his new digs — the park factor for home runs by lefties in Oakland is a reasonable 89, and wOBA by lefties is only penalized five percent.

Does he have a bad platoon split that will keep him from achieving that average line? So far, in 55 PAs against southpaws, his strikeout rate has jumped to 27.3%, which looks like a problem. But his walk rate is also higher (7.3% vs 5.2%), and his ISO is about the same (.160 vs .169). And that’s a tiny sample. Open it up to his minor league numbers, and you’ll see that there’s no real discernible pattern to his platoon splits. Maybe he has more patience and makes less contact against lefties… maybe. It doesn’t look like something that should kill his playing time or make him a bench bat.

Now that it looks like he has at least an average bat and average-ish platoon issues, we can add that defense back in. With a plus arm, and more range than your typical corner outfielder, it looks like Reddick will be an above-average corner outfielder once that defense is considered. And we got here without faithcasting him into center field, without giving him a good batting average despite his good power and contact rates, and without giving him any of those plus walk rates he’s shown before in the minors.

Sounds like a decent third outfielder, doesn’t it?

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dolphins teammate on Dion Jordan: It’s a bad situation

Texans reportedly the favorite to be featured on ‘Hard Knocks’

Report: Goodell will not recuse himself from Brady appeal

Will Smith suspended eight games for 'foreign substance'

Report: Kobe Bryant likely to retire following next season


Don Shula named in painkiller lawsuit from former NFL players

Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2 versus Atlanta

Michael Sam signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

Ex-A&M quarterback Kenny Hill transferring to TCU

Michael Bennett compares Pete Carroll to Willy Wonka

Jim Kelly: There is no doubt Tom Brady cheated

The Los Angeles Angels are finally finding their groove

Re-evaluating all 30 MLB teams at the quarter mark, ranked

Is virtual reality training the next leap forward for football?

Warriors a very shaky 2-0 against the Rockets

NFL icon Bud Grant zings Pats with Deflategate joke on Twitter

RG3 announces birth daughter's birth on social media

Don't listen to Nick Saban, the bowl system is just fine

MLB scores partial victory in minor league wage lawsuits

Ranking the NBA Playoffs' most significant injuries

WATCH: Will Smith ejected for foreign substance on arm

Guy behind NFL's social media trolling of Pats is a Jets fan?

In defense of 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink

Ten players who could benefit due to PAT rule change

Five QBs set for breakout campaigns

Report: Lakers will pursue Thibodeau

MLS leaders struggling with attendance

LBS: I was a contestant on Sports Jeopardy!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.