There are few certainties in life. Death and taxes are two of them, as the cliché reminds us. A's fans enjoyed another last year: Jed Lowrie batting third in the lineup.
The infielder hit third in 146 of Oakland's 162 games last season. He and designated hitter Khris Davis formed a destructive tandem which anchored the entire A's lineup all year.
That will change this season. Lowrie signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the New York Mets this offseason, leaving the A's in search of a new No. 3 hitter.
"It's going to be a little bit of a work in progress," A's manager Bob Melvin recently told reporters in Arizona. "That spot might turn over a little bit depending on (whether we face) a right-handed pitcher or left-handed pitcher. At this point, I don't have anybody I'm penning into the number three spot like we had in the past with Jed and KD three-four. But you look up and down our lineup, it's still going to be a very productive lineup throughout."
Melvin will have plenty of options to experiment with. Stephen Piscotty, Matt Chapman, and Jurickson Profar are a few of the names who come to mind, though Chapman figures to remain in the two spot, where he enjoyed massive success last year.
Profar is an intriguing possibility because he would essentially allow the rest of the lineup to stay the same as last season. Melvin prefers that type of consistency.
"The way it played out last year, obviously Jed was important in the three spot, which allowed KD and then Oly to have his back, and Piscotty to have his back, and it worked pretty well," Melvin said. "So I want to take a look at that. It doesn't necessarily mean (Profar) is going to get there, but if he does, it would allow everybody else to be in the same spot as they were last year."
Another option is moving Davis up from the cleanup spot, though Melvin is hesitant to mess with his recent success.
"I think he's most comfortable (hitting fourth). We had talked a little bit about third earlier on, but I think he's pretty comfortable in the four spot. He's had some pretty good years in the four spot recently," Melvin smiled.
Piscotty and Profar figure to earn the first cracks at the No. 3 slot. Both players are coming off career years, and possess many of the tools that made Lowrie so successful.
As Melvin mentioned, his lineups will likely vary based on the opposing pitcher. Either way, the A's offensive depth should make them a highly productive group once again.