OAKLAND -- As Seth Brown’s early-season slump prolonged into May, A’s manager Mark Kotsay pulled the outfielder into his office for a discussion about shifting to more of an opposite-field approach at the plate.
Kotsay’s message to Brown, who was hitting .158 through his first 34 games of the season, was simple: Focus on keeping that approach, and when he looks at his final offensive statistics at the end of the year, he’ll be “surprised at where you end up.”
Fast forward to Sunday’s 13-4 A’s loss to the Mets at the Coliseum, and Brown certainly has to be pleased with the numbers he’s put up. A day after homering off a superstar pitcher in Jacob deGrom, Brown connected against another New York ace in Max Scherzer, taking him deep for an opposite-field solo shot to left-center to account for Oakland’s only run against the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
Hammering a 2-2 fastball from Scherzer at 104.6 mph off the bat to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, the long ball was Brown’s 25th of the year as he continues to add to his career-high home run total.
“He’s got 25 home runs with a chance to do more,” Kotsay said. “We’re excited about how he’s finishing the season. Really, really impressed with what Seth’s done.”
An everyday player in the big leagues for the first time in his career, Brown has taken the opportunity and responded by establishing himself as a mainstay in the middle of the A’s lineup. Hitting .233 through 141 games, the 30-year-old’s 66 RBIs are also an ongoing career-high total.
Brown’s best work has also come down the final stretch. Through 21 games in September, he’s batting .297 with eight home runs and 16 RBIs. The eight homers -- Brown’s highest total over a single month in his career -- are the second most by an American League hitter this month, trailing only Aaron Judge and Mike Trout.
“He continues to get better,” Kotsay said of Brown. “He continues to take great at-bats. He’s hitting in the heart of the lineup. He’s got two years of service time, yet the growth we’re seeing is what we were looking for.”
In an A’s offense short on Major League experience, Brown has quickly advanced in his overall comprehension of how to study pitching at the highest level, constantly having conversations with teammates about what he’s seeing from opposing pitchers.
“He’s a guy with a lot of power. But he also understands what his approach needs to be against each pitcher,” said A’s left fielder/second baseman Tony Kemp. “That’s the most important thing. He’s not just a free swinger. He knows what he’s doing when he goes up there.”
Showing off his versatility on defense, Brown started his 10th game of the season in center field, a position he’d only played four games in the Majors from 2019-21.
“It’s actually probably my favorite spot in the outfield,” Brown said. “Center field, I get to see what the hitters are doing with pitches. It allows me to get better jumps on the ball. I like it out there.”
While a majority of the roster is still undergoing last-minute evaluations to determine potential roles for 2023, the A’s know what they have in Brown, who has nine more games to put the final touches on the best season of his career so far.
“His passion and energy for the game and for success is what drives him,” Kotsay said. “He’s versatile enough to play the outfield and first base, which provides a lot of value. The approach, there’s no question he’s probably the hardest-working guy on the club. I’m seeing a lot of good things from Seth.”