Ryan Noda

Why Noda could be intriguing A's leadoff-hitter option in 2024

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In his rookie year, Ryan Noda was a bright spot during the Athetics’ lowly 2023 MLB season. 

Mainly batting in the top third of Oakland’s lineup, the 27-year-old flashed a strong ability to get on base, boasting a .364 OBS.

On Thursday, MLB’s Steve Stockmar explained why Noda would make an enticing leadoff batter option as he enters his second season with the A’s. 

“The left-handed hitter slashed .229/.364/.406 in 2023, but his 77 walks led all MLB rookies and his .770 OPS ranked ninth among rookies with at least 400 at-bats,” wrote Stockmar. “Go ahead and add Noda's 22 doubles and 16 home runs to the totals, and the dude knows how to get on base.

“Most of Noda’s action came while batting second in the order, but he did bat leadoff in 21 of his starts as a rookie with a healthy .776 OPS in the top spot. That knack for finding a way on base could see him batting leadoff more in 2024.”

Noda finished his inaugural campaign third in hits (93) and RBIs (54) for Oakland. 

But with three stolen bases across 128 games last season and speed that doesn't rival teammate Esteury Ruiz (67 stolen bases in 2023), Noda might not be the most conventional leadoff batter. 

However, A’s manager Mark Kotsay suggested that he won’t treat speed as the most significant quality when deciding who will hold the No.1 spot in his lineup. 

“It can play into that, definitely,” Kotsay said Thursday. “I don’t think that the leadoff spot has to be a guy that has speed. [Noda’s] definitely a guy you want to get on base as much as possible. We’ll look at that as an option.”

Recognizing what he can do on the diamond, Kotsay added that Noda wasn’t at his best last season, carrying untapped potential into the 2024 MLB season. 

While the A’s are figuring out where they’ll be playing next season, one thing is for certain: Noda is looking to improve and contribute as much as possible, especially after last season’s overall outcomes.

“I’ve got to keep getting better,” Noda said Thursday. “My whole thing is we just want to win. Last year we didn’t win a lot, and for me, I think it was just a failure. We all know it. We all worked this offseason. We all kept tabs on each other to make sure we’re all doing the same work, getting in the gym, getting in the cage, working on the right things.”

Noda, like Kotsay, is hopeful for leaps in personal and team success.

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