Commentary

Presto! It's a platoon

Oakland A's GM Billy Beane is at the forefront of another trend in baseball

Originally Published: March 5, 2014
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine

Keating IlloJason Schneider for ESPNPlatooning is actually an old trend in baseball. But it works, well, like magic.

I AM IN A fantasy baseball league that's so hard-core, we have a minor league player draft, and I've had Michael Choice, a former first-round pick for Oakland, stashed among my prospects for a couple of years now. Choice may not develop the power that scouts initially forecast, but last year, at age 23, he had a .390 OBP in Triple-A, and I think he'll be a fine major league hitter. So I was surprised when the A's recently traded him to Texas in a four-man deal for Craig Gentry, a career .280-hitting centerfielder. Why would Billy Beane deal Choice for a fourth outfielder?

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.