Count on Jaso to be looking when he’s leading off

At some level A’s manager Bob Melvin seems to have made a wise choice in having John Jaso get most of the starts in the leadoff spot with Coco Crisp on the disabled list.

You want the leadoff hitter to get one base, and Jaso has done that. His on-base percentage coming into Tuesday when in the leadoff slot was .462. He doesn’t have great speed, but getting on is the name of the game.

Jaso has been all over the lineup the last season-plus in Seattle and Oakland, and he doesn’t change his work habits just because of where he’s situated in the lineup.

Except …

    “Except I’ll usually look at the first pitch when I’m leading off,’’ Jaso said before Tuesday’s game when he was, for the seventh time this season, the leadoff hitter. “Other than that, I don’t change much.’’

Wasn’t he tempted to take a first-pitch hack, figuring that pitchers would try to start him out with an easy strike?

After all, Adam Rosales, who is the leadoff man against left-handers until Crisp gets back, did that and homered just the other day in Yankee Stadium.

“Well, I did do that,’’ he said. “It didn’t work. Rosey had it easy.’’

Easy? How so? Rosales’s homer came against C.C. Sabathia.

“I tried to do it against (Detroit’s Justin) Verlander,’’ Jaso said. “It didn’t work.’’

Sabathia is one of the very best in the game and is 38-17 since 2011. Over that same period Tigers’ ace Verlander is even better, though, going 45-15 and winning the 2011 Cy Young Award. Sabathia also has a Cy Young, but that came in 2007.

Just for the record, Jaso looked at the first pitch Tuesday from Zach McAllister. And the second but eventually flew out to left.


–Chili Davis finished his Major League career with 350 homers. He had 20 or more homers 10 times (and 19 two other times).

But as the A’s batting coach looks at the game now, he’s not sure he likes the emphasis on the long ball.

“Stadiums are built for home runs now, more than before,’’ Davis said. “In my mind, the home run ball is very overrated. There is too much made of it.’’

That’s not to say that Davis doesn’t want the A’s to hit the ball into the seats. He’s all for that, but like a three-point shot in basketball, it has to come from doing a lot of small things right and not just from going up and trying to bludgeon the ball to the Arctic Circle.

“The game is about hitting the ball hard on a line someplace,’’ Davis said. “It’s about consistency. I know there are all sorts of sabermetrics about the importance of the homer, but not everybody is equipped to hit them. And even guys who don’t have legitimate power are out there after 30 homers.

“That’s not the game. That’s the batter’s Achilles’ heel. I know that I would rather have four hits and four RBIs than hit grand slam. It’s about the consistency. And if you put good swings out there as many times as you can, the more you’re going to get the job done.’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.