It’s no fun when a hitter leaves Colorado. Not for the fantasy owner and, I’m sure, not for the player himself. Seriously, hitting in Coors’ Field has to be the most fun you can have as a hitter. Just ask Vinny Castilla or Dante Bichette. Unfortunately for Seth Smith he’ll no longer have that luxury as he’s now a member of the Oakland A’s.
Transitioning from Coors’ Field to the Oakland Coliseum has to be like going from Kobe beef to whatever meat McDonald’s uses in its hamburgers. Like most that have spent time in Colorado, Smith possesses a stark difference in his home and away numbers. His career home OPS is .925, excellent by any measure. It dips to .750 on the road, still a respectable figure in this quieted offensive era. Despite its respectability most people only notice the .150 difference between the two. Oakland routinely rates as one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball, driving Smith’s value down.
More than the home/road splits, the biggest cause for concern with Smith are his platoon splits.
The Rockies did an excellent job of limiting Smith’s exposure to southpaws. As our own Jackie Moore pointed out, of Smith’s 1449 career plate appearances 83.4% have come against right handed pitching. That’s much higher than the league average of 70.4%. They’ve done it for good reason. He’s had one good season against lefties (.868 OPS), but that came in 2009 and looks like a total aberration compared to his career numbers (.588 OPS). Oakland looks to have given Smith the job of starting left fielder, which means no platoon partner.
However, if he struggles you could see Collin Cowgill or Michael Taylor stealing at bats against lefties. If Oakland has a glut of one thing it’s average outfielders. Combining with Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick, the A’s may actually have a pretty solid outfield.
Before the trade ESPN rated Smith as the 52nd best outfielder, but that will almost certainly go down after the trade. In Colorado he was good for roughly 15 home runs, 50-60 RBI and 55-70 runs in mostly limited action. Despite gaining more playing time it’s unlikely his numbers will increase significantly. Balls that were home runs in Colorado may end up as doubles or outs in Oakland. It’s certainly possible that Oakland will flip Smith during the season — he’s not a young piece they need to rebuild with — but until that time comes his value has taken a hit to begin the season.
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