The 2012 A's were filled with players that were x-factors. Did anyone think that Brandon Moss would stake a claim to the first base job and become one of the best sluggers in the league? Did anyone think that Josh Reddick, a guy who was a part-time player in Boston in 2011, would become one of the more beloved and dangerous players on the A's? Hell, did anyone think that Sean Doolittle, a converted infielder, would be one of the team's best relievers in 2012? I doubt many people answered "yes" to any of those questions. But when looking at the 2013 A's, it's a lot tougher to find an x-factor. You know all of these names after they had breakout years in 2012.
My x-factor for the Oakland Athletics in 2013 is Chris Young.
Now, you're probably seeing that name and scoffing. Chris Young was a star with the Diamondbacks, and has three 20/20 seasons under his belt. But after the A's picked him up in October, he's almost fallen off the radar. Coco Crisp is penciled in as the A's starting center fielder, and with Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes inked into the corners, Young will have some issues finding some playing time. However, I still feel like he's going to play a big role on the A's this year.
Oakland's primary DH will be Seth Smith, who got most of the playing time in a platoon last year with Jonny Gomes. Gomes crushed lefties, Smith crushed righties, and all was right with the world. But even though Gomes was mostly platooning with Smith at DH, he still played nearly 300 innings in the field. Keep in mind that Gomes is nowhere near as good of a fielder as Young, who graded out consistently above average in center field with the Diamondbacks. Cespedes and Crisp both missed chunks of time for the A's last year, and without another outfield option (unlike last season, when the A's also had Collin Cowgill on the bench in addition to Gomes), Young will be the first man to be slotted in as a replacement.
Gomes had a two win year for the A's last season in 333 plate appearances, with below average defense. Young is younger than Gomes with better plate discipline, more speed, much better defense, and slightly less power. Even if he only collects 300 plate appearances for the A's this season, Young is probably going to rake and accrue as much or more value than he did a year ago. And hell, him or Crisp could even be trade bait come July if the A's are struggling and/or one of Crisp and Young is having a rough year. I actually wouldn't be surprised if Young finished the season as the third most valuable Oakland hitter. Not bad for a guy who was acquired for a light hitting middle infielder and isn't even expected to start every day this season.