KANSAS CITY — Though his breakout season is one of the reasons the Oakland Athletics find themselves contending for the American League playoffs, Josh Reddick came into Thursday's game suffering from a big slump.
Going 9-for-67 with 26 strikeouts over 15 games will make a guy consider any means necessary to get on base, so Reddick used his noodle in the fourth inning when the Kansas City Royals went into a defensive shift to compensate for his tendency to pull the ball to the right side:
Take that, defense! How many times have fans seen a shift like that against the likes of David Ortiz or Jim Thome and wondered, "Why not drop a bunt down?" The A's have been struggling collectively to score runs, and while Reddick's bunt single didn't happen to lead to any scoring that inning, manager Bob Melvin praised his slugger's initiative:
"Absolutely, for a guy that's struggling a little bit. I think it's more the shift and the third baseman [playing] back. But other teams are going to be ... a little more reluctant to do it, if you drop some bunts down. [The other team has] to plan a little bit more and you can't shift as much. A lot of good things happen from doing that with the defense being in that position."
Before the game, Reddick talked about the good influence his former teammates in Boston (notably Ortiz) were during his formative years playing for the Red Sox. And, wouldn't you know it, there's significant historical precedent for Big Papi putting down bunts to beat the shift. That's (probably) partially where Reddick got the idea.
Reddick had a pair of strikeouts later in Oakland's 3-0 victory, so he's still fighting to get his bat going — but it's not from a lack of effort, or even execution.