How the Athletics will replace Cespedes

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Yoenis Cespedes has hit 66 home runs since the start of the 2012 season (T-15th in AL).

Before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics agreed to a deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes (YO-enis CES-puh-dez) to Boston for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes. The deal allows the Athletics to insert Lester (10-7, 2.52 ERA) at the top of the rotation, replacing Jesse Chavez (8-7, 3.44 ERA), who was moved to the bullpen.

One of the key questions from Thursday’s trade is how the A’s plan to replace Cespedes’ presence in their lineup. The A’s can feel confident that their new outfield platoon of Gomes and Sam Fuld can make up for most of the production they lost in Cespedes.

One of the overlooked aspects of Oakland’s trade deadline was making up for this lost production with a potential platoon in left field. This season, Fuld has a batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of .250/.343/.340 against right-handed pitching, and Gomes has a line of .302/.400/.431 against left-handed pitching.

Combined, the two players have an OPS of .754 against opposite-hand pitchers, which is four points higher than Cespedes’ overall OPS this season.

Another area where the A's can make up value is on defense.

Defensive Performance
Since Beginning of 2012

With the benefit of the designated hitter, the A’s can limit Gomes’ innings in the field, where he has been worth minus-50 defensive runs saved (DRS) since the beginning of 2012.

Even though Cespedes is having a career year on defense, having Fuld in the field could be more valuable to the A’s.

Fuld has saved three more runs on defense than Cespedes in the outfield since the beginning of the 2012 season despite playing 1,330 fewer innings in the field.

Assuming Fuld gets the bulk of the playing time in the outfield in place of Gomes, the A's should be better off defensively than they were before the trade.

The A’s have been using this platoon strategy the past several seasons, and it has become even more prevalent this year.

Vs. Opposite-Handed Pitchers
Notable A's 2014 Season

Some of their key offensive contributors this year have played almost exclusively against pitchers of the opposite hand.

Using this strategy of platooning players has helped lead Oakland to an MLB-best five runs per game.

Even while playing in a pitcher-friendly park without any notable star players, the A’s have had the best offense in baseball. This should not change after shipping Cespedes off to Boston.