Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.
Nick Martini was one of the best stories in baseball last season. After spending more than seven years in the minor leagues, the 28-year-old finally got to make his Major League debut with the A's, and he took full advantage of his opportunity.
Martini led Oakland with a .296 batting average and .397 on-base percentage, compiling an OPS of .811 in 55 games. The left-hander earned the A's starting left fielder role against right-handed pitchers and even led off 32 games.
The big question heading into 2019 is whether it was a fluke. Baseball Reference expects Martini to regress a bit next season, projecting a slash line of .265/.349/.415 with six home runs, 14 doubles, and 31 RBI.
Martini has proven in both the big leagues and the minors that he is an on-base machine. Last season at Triple-A Nashville, he reached base in 65 consecutive games, setting a Pacific Coast League record. He also owns the Division I collegiate record, reaching base in 93 straight games at Kansas State University.
Martini figures to enter the season as the A's primary left fielder against right-handed pitching. He will have to fend off the likes of Dustin Fowler, Mark Canha, and Chad Pinder, but if he performs at anywhere near last year's level, he won't have to worry.
A's manager Bob Melvin was impressed with Martini's sophisticated approach in the batter's box last season. For someone with limited big league experience, he understands how to work a count and rarely chases pitches out of the strike zone.
We expect another strong season from Martini in 2019. While it will be hard to match last year's numbers, we think he can at least come close. His plate discipline and opposite field approach should once again make him a solid leadoff option for the A's.
Projection: .281/.363/.414, 7 HR, 24 doubles, 44 RBI