If you haven’t been watching the show that rookie center fielder Billy Burns has been putting on in Oakland then you are REALLY missing out!
Chances are you haven’t been watching Burns, given the Athletics’ current record. Plus, the fact that just about everyone in baseball is counting them out and are expecting GM Billy Beane to start a fire sale pretty much, well, yesterday.
The thing is I don’t think Beane will have a fire sale and it is because of players like Burns.
Going into Tuesday night’s game the 25-year-old switch-hitter was on a 12-game hitting streak. Five of those games were multi-hit games, including a 3-hit game in the A’s 3-0 win over the New York Yankees on May 31.
Unfortunately for Burns his streak ended after Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers, but he came right back on Wednesday going 2-5 as the A’s defeated the Rangers by the score of 5-4.
It appears that he may be starting out on another streak as he went 2-3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI in Thursday’s A’s win. He played a key part, contributing to the A’s taking the series from the Rangers two games to one while upping his batting average to .306 on the year.
At just 5’9″ and 180 lbs, Burns is far from a power hitter but this season he’s proven that he can hit the ball out of the yard. In his four minor league seasons, three with the Washington Nationals and one with the Athletics, he hit a total of three home runs. Burns already has two this year and that is against big league pitching.
While Burns’ homers may still be a rarity, him beating out infield grounders for singles is not. The kid is fast, very fast, which has helped him stretch those infield would-be ground outs into singles and swipe ten bags so far this season.
His speed helps him not only on the base paths but in the field as well. He’s become a defensive ace with his glove in center field where, speed is a necessity.
Combine his speed with his athletic agility and ability to always seem to keep a keen eye on the ball and you get plays like the two unbelievable catches that Burns made on Thursday afternoon in Oakland.
Each play helped starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, who appeared very appreciative of Burns’ outfield heroics, maintain his eight-inning shutout effort. Kazmir allowed just one hit in the game but there could have been more if not for Burns.
As you can see it was the Billy Burns show at the Coliseum on Thursday and it has been for a while now. The A’s lead-off hitter could and probably should, at least considering what he has accomplished thus far, be in the running for both a Gold Glove Award and the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
Unfortunately it’s likely he’ll be overlooked unless the A’s can pull it together this season. It seems as though Beane thinks they can. I mean, the fire sale hasn’t started yet and it shouldn’t.
In 2012 a team not all that different from the 2015 A’s, also put together in pieces by Beane, was 13 games out of first place on June 30th. By the end of September the 2012 Athletics had been crowned the American League Western Division Champions.
If the Billy Burns show continues and he hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down, and Josh Reddick continues to have what is arguably the best season of his career, it will only take a few more pieces of the puzzle to put this team together.
Even if the A’s finish the season in last place, however, it’s still worth watching a game here and there. I’ve marveled at Burns’ speed since spring training 2013 and since then he’s developed into so much more.
Believe me when I say that the Billy Burns show has been downright spectacular and is definitely worth checking out!