Oakland Athletics’ Chad Pinder Leading Baseball in Barrels

May 20, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Chad Pinder (18) after scoring a run against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics followed up their impressive home series against the Boston Red Sox over the weekend by dropping the first game of a quick two-game series with the Miami Marlins. Obviously the reason Oakland lost Tuesday night was because Chad Pinder wasn’t in the starting lineup.

Now I know what you’re thinking: What’s a Chad Pinder?

That’s a Chad Pinder ladies and gentlemen.

While all of his at-bats aren’t quite as impressive as the one above, he has shown an increase in power at the dish this season, drilling five long balls in 54 plate appearances. His high water mark as a professional was his 15 home season in 2015 with Double-A Midland.

At the rate he’s going, Pinder wouldn’t need much more than 300 plate appearances to eclipse 30 homers this season. A big part of the reasoning for this would be that Oakland Athletics infielder is leading baseball in Barrels per plate appearance, which is admittedly skewed a bit due to his lack of playing time, but given that the majority of baseball fans couldn’t name what team he’s on, it’s worth a mention.

At the moment, Pinder is barreling a pitch in 16.7% of his plate appearances, and for those that are wondering what a “barrel” is, it’s defined by Baseball Savant as, “A well-struck batted ball with an estimated batting average/slugging percentage of over .500/1.500.” In other words, a batter is hitting the ball really well and it should go really far.

Pinder is also second in average exit velocity this season at 94.7 miles per hour, behind only Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins, which is perfectly understandable. Sano is crushing the ball at an average of 98.2 mph this season.

The one curious question that Oakland Athletics fans have been asking in recent weeks is why isn’t Pinder playing more? He has obviously worked on his swing and is producing when given the chance, but those chances have been sporadic. This month he has been starting one game and making a pinch-hit appearance in just about every series, but nothing close to regular playing time–until this past weekend against the Sox. He also pinch-hit last night and gathered another two plate appearances.

The problem that Oakland has is that they signed Matt Joyce and Trevor Plouffe to play in right and at third, still have Jed Lowrie at second, and when healthy, Marcus Semien at short, and that takes up all of the positions that Pinder has played in his pro career. While Semien is on the mend, the A’s could have him play short a bit more instead of Adam Rosales, but Rosie hasn’t been a slouch this year either.

What could end up happening is that the A’s look to move Joyce once he gets going (currently hitting .198), or perhaps even Plouffe, which would open up more time at the hot corner for Pinder and Ryon Healy, or perhaps even Matt Chapman, the A’s number three prospect.

The A’s may not be exciting to the outside world just yet, but there are plenty of players worth watching this season, and as the season continues we should see which of the younger talent emerges and creates a spot for themselves on future rosters. Pinder is making his case early.

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