A’s CF Billy Burns is one of the disappointments so far. Last season was a breakout for the speedy center fielder with a .292/.334/.726 slash rate. Fantasy owners took notice of the nice OBP and 26 steals. Burns played well this spring training with a slash rate of .333/.361/.474 to go along with 5 steals. In my opinion Burns has played well enough to keep the starting job in Center Field for the Athletics.
Manager Bob Melvin and General Manager David Forst actions so far have said otherwise. Burns has started only 5 of 9 games so far with Coco Crisp starting 5 as well. The A’s have a logjam all over the diamond Josh Reddick, Chris Coghlan, Billy Burns, Coco Crisp, and Khris Davis fighting for playing time in the outfield alone. Coghlan has already seen time this season at 2B, 3B, LF, RF, and DH. Stephen Vogt is locked in as the catcher but if Vogt is the DH then Billy Butler sits. Butler has been benched quite a bit, while new addition Yonder Alonso has started 8 games at 1B despite batting just .115.
The platooning does make sense, however I have problem with cutting down the development of youth. Playing a 36 year-old injury prone player in Coco Crisp over a 26 year-old emerging player in Billy Burns is a real problem. If adding Crisp to the lineup is a priority then why not play him in LF and move Khris Davis to DH? Being able to watch Davis everyday I would argue against any stats that grade him out as a decent fielder. Davis has a weak arm and doesn’t break on balls very well. The A’s acquired Davis for his power and OBP. Crisp at age 36 may be better suited for a complimentary 4th outfielder role than a starting spot. Only time will tell if his body is able to hold up. History says it won’t as Crisp hasn’t played 145 games in a season since the 2007 campaign.
Fantasy owners shouldn’t cut bait with Billy Burns just yet. I recommend not overanalyzing the opening weeks of the baseball season. Fantasy owners drafted Burns looking for steals, but you can’t steal from the bench. I expect Burns to be playing on a regular basis shortly.