OAKLAND — With his white pants rolled up to his knees and his green and gold striped socks on full display, Danny Valencia enjoyed yet another big night in the Oakland Athletics’ 7-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday.
“Danny’s swings today — lest the last at-bat — were fantastic,” said manager Bob Melvin. “[He was] using the whole field [and] driving the ball. It’s tough to hit a home run to right field in our ballpark with a righty hitter at night.”
Valencia sent his two-run shot into the right field seats in the third inning, collected an RBI double in the fifth and almost added a second homer in the seventh when he sent a towering blast into the second deck that hooked just wide of the left field foul pole.
Since returning from a stint on the disabled list on May 6, the 31-year-old third baseman has terrorized American League pitchers, posting a .378 average, connecting on eight long balls and driving in 19 runs in 21 games.
Acquired for a $20,000 waiver claim last summer, Valencia has fast emerged as the A’s most valuable player.
“Based on what he did for us last year, we stuck him right in the four hole,” Melvin said. “That’s what he did for us all last year. So, he’s carried it over. He had the injury [and he] got off to a little bit of a slow start. But at this point right now, he’s producing like a number four hitter that you would expect.”
The cleanup man has played just more than half a season’s worth of games with Oakland — 82 to be exact — and has tallied 19 home runs.
Thanks to those power numbers, Valencia is fast emerging as one of the club’s most valuable trade chips.
This summer would be the smart time to sell for an Oakland team that remains tied for last in the AL West even after a four-game win streak.
Playing for his sixth team in seven seasons, Valencia has never had a higher value. And the A’s have an in-house replacement in spring phenom Matt Chapman, who’s hammered 13 homers in his first 50 Double-A games.