Heading into the 2010 season, the Oakland Athletics sure look like the “Swiping A’s” rather than “Swingin’ A’s.”
With the A’s focusing on pitching and defense, the offense has taken a hit in the last few seasons. There’s few players to be thoroughly excited about this season on offense.
Jack Cust? Eh. Cliff Pennington? Eh. Rajai Davis? Hmm.
Davis, who stole 41 bases in 2009, helped lead the A’s to a .500 record in the second-half. In fact, as a team, the A’s managed to swipe a total of 133 bases. A year earlier, in 2008, the A’s managed to swipe only 88 total bases.
With Davis in the lineup (preferably near the top) there’s no doubt that the A’s will remain aggressive on the base-paths. Last season, Davis hit .305/.360/.423 and drove in 48 runs. While Davis’ numbers are expected to drop a bit, there’s no question that he’ll continue to be a force in the A’s lineup.
Upon evaluating the rest of the offense, it’s no secret that the A’s can’t afford to wait around for a two-run homer to get them on the board. The A’s will have to rely on their aggressive-style of play that helped them go 17-10 in September last season.
Aside from Davis, I see Ryan Sweeney, Kurt Suzuki and Kevin Kouzmanoff as being key contributors to the A’s success on offense. Sweeney, who hit an incredible .360/.418/.477 last September, will look to build upon his strong finish. While Suzuki, who’s coming into just his third full season, will look to build upon a season where he hit 15 homers and drove in 88 runs. Lastly, there’s Kouzmanoff, who is also coming off a season where he drove in 88 runs.
If these four players can continue to build upon a strong ’09 campaign, the A’s on offense should be okay. Who knows, maybe these guys can start a new identity for the A’s. Perhaps they could be known as the “Swiping A’s” opposed to the “Swingin’ A’s.”
**At least until Michael Taylor and Chris Carter arrive