Alright, quick quiz. And no cheating. As of Monday night, who has more home runs on the season: Hunter Pence or Coco Crisp?
Haha! Trick question. Pence and Crisp are currently tied with 17 home runs apiece. I do not apologize for the trick question. (However, I do apologize for the “Haha!” Admittedly, that’s just bad form.)
Crisp’s power production is big news though. With a pivotal two-run blast Monday in Oakland’s 4-2 win over the Rangers, Crisp set a new career high in home runs. He previously hit 16 homers with the Indians in 2005, and that was in 594 at bats. He has tallied just 426 at bats in 2013 thus far, and with 25 games remaining in the regular season, the 33-year-old switch-hitter has a legitimate shot at hitting 20 home runs. He is concurrently three steals/three homers short of a 20-20 season.
With the Giants, Pence too is closing in on the 20-20 mark. Monday, he swiped his career-high 21st base in San Diego, leaving him just three homers short of the esteemed plateau.
The similarities between Pence and Crisp are noteworthy, especially for two players who have appeared to be the antithesis of one another throughout their respective careers.
For Pence, the power production comes as no surprise. He has hit over 20 home runs in each of his five full seasons in the Major Leagues. Valued as a five-tool player, he has consistently been a power-first threat, with his speed on the bases a serious, but secondary commodity.
Crisp has long been renowned as a speedster. When he signed with the A’s prior to the 2010 season, he had notched 20 steals four times in his career. He went on to become one of the most feared base stealers in the game over the next three years, setting a career-high with 32 steals through just 75 games in ’10, before surpassing that mark by swiping 49 bases in 2011. Last season, he maintained his prowess by stealing 39 bases.
Despite past differences, the respective abilities of each Pence and Crisp seem to be intersecting this season. It just goes to show how good players must continue to evolve in establishing successful careers. So, it’s fitting that Crisp’s big blast on Monday helps keep the A’s continue on the path of realizing another place they’d like to see the green-and-gold intersect with Pence, that being the winning of a World Championship.
With Monday’s win, the A’s move into an outright tie with the Rangers for first place in the American League West. And something catastrophic would have to happen for both teams not to advance to the postseason. In the wild-card race, Tampa trails the top seed by three game – meaning if the season ended today, all three would qualify for the playoffs – one by virtue of a division title, and the other two advancing to the one-game wild-card matchup. The Orioles are the first team currently outside the postseason bubble, and they currently trail the Rangers and A’s by 5 ½ games.
Crisp does have a World Championship to his credit though, as member of the 2007 Red Sox. And since the A’s optioned relief pitcher Hideki Okajima to the minor leagues, Crisp in the only player in the A’s clubhouse to boast a World Series ring.