A's Watch: Barton, Sweeney, Pennington & More

At 9-5, the Oakland Athletics are in first place and hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the defending divsion champion Los Angeles Angels. The A’s starting pitching has been the main ingredient for success, but certain players on offense are making solid contributions early in the season.

Daric Barton, Ryan Sweeney and Cliff Pennington are the three players who have gotten off to solid starts for the A’s offense. Barton, who came to Oakland in the 2004 Mark Mulder trade, is finally starting to look like the highly-touted prospect he once was. Sweeney, who came to Oakland in the Nick Swisher deal, is one of the bright young outfielders in the game today. And Pennington, who I’m still not entirely sold on, is actually exceeding expectations on offense.

Through the first two weeks, Barton leads the A’s in OBP (.474), OPS (.878) and walks (13). Sweeney leads the A’s in BA (.320) and Pennington leads the team with 10 RBIs. Barton, Sweeney and Pennington combined have driven in 26 of Oakland’s 62 runs (42%). The A’s offensively are nothing special, but so far they’ve exceeded my expectations. The A’s are currently hitting .252/.321/.362 and are 10th in the MLB in runs scored (62).

If the A’s pitching continues to dominate (2.90 Team ERA), the offense won’t need to score many runs to win games. Ben Sheets, Dallas Braden, Justin Duchscherer, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez have all started the season strong. It’s hard to believe that all five starters will continue their dominance all season long, but the A’s have a ton of arms and have great depth in the minors. Sheets and Duchscherer are risky because of their health issues, but both have looked fine so far this year. As impressed as I am with Barton, Sweeney and Pennington, I’m equally impressed by the A’s strong starting rotation.

Ex-Athletics ace, Barry Zito, looked like vintage Zito in yesterday’s start against the Dodgers. Unfortunatley for Zito, his bullpen allowed a Manny Ramirez homer in the eighth inning to prevent Zito from winning his third consecutive start.

Ex-Athletics pitcher, Rich Harden, got torched in the Brox yesterday. Here’s hoping that he’ll perform better in his next outing.

Daric Barton, who left yesterday’s game after being hit by a pitch, will undergo an MRI today. Eric Chavez, who played first base for a majority of the spring, could fill in for Barton (if necessary).

Cliff Pennington suffered an injury as well in yesterday’s game against Baltimore. Like Barton’s injury, however, the team doesn’t expect Pennington to miss any considerable playing time.

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Tags: 2010 A's A's Blog Athletics Blog Barry Zito Baseball Blog Ben Sheets Brett Anderson Chavvy Cliff Pennington Dallas Braden Daric Barton Eric Chavez Gio Gonzalez Justin Duchscherer MLB Oakland Oakland Athletics Rich Harden Ryan Sweeny

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