Pitching has not been much of a problem for the Oakland Athletics this season, but offensively, the club could benefit from some consistent run support.
Entering Monday, the A’s lead the majors in ERA (2.46) and are holding opponents to a low .226 batting average. On the flip side of things, however, the A’s offense is not putting up solid numbers. The A’s rank 24th in runs (80), 22nd in batting average (.242), and the A’s have just two hitters with OBPs over the .320 mark.
Coco Crisp leads all Oakland regulars with a .259 average, while the team’s main source of power is coming from Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui. If Oakland wants to contend, however, the team is going to need more members on offense to step it up.
The A’s currently sit 3.5 games back of the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West, and the team has a very important series starting tonight in Anaheim against the Angels.
The team did have a nice offensive a mini “awakening,” outscoring the Mariners 14-3 in the final two games of their four game series this past weekend. The A’s will need to continue to score runs, however, if they want to remain in the picture later on this season. More importantly, the players listed below are will need to find consistency on offense (and in some cases, defense), in order to help support a stellar pitching staff.
- 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff: It was no secret this past offseason that Billy Beane and the rest of the A’s front office wanted an upgrade at third, but when they missed out on Adrian Beltre (again), Kouzmanoff remained with the team. He hit a paltry .247 last season in first year with Oakland, but he did lead the team in home runs (16) and RBIs (71). This season, Kouzmanoff has struggled a bit out of the gates. He’s batting .226 with 2 HR and 9 RBIs, and has really struggled getting on base this season, as evidenced by his .239 OBP. He played well in the final two games this past weekend in the Seattle series, but finding consistency will be key for Kouzmanoff. Oh yeah, and he needs to take out the iron that’s weighing down his glove. He’s made five errors so far this year.
- Kurt Suzuki: Suzuki, once regarded as one of game’s best catchers whose name wasn’t Joe Mauer, struggled last season, hitting .242 in 131 games last year. A year before that, in 2009, Suzuki hit .274 with 15 HR and 88 RBIs. The A’s would like to see that kind of production out of Suzuki this year, especially since the lineup has a little more protection. In 19 starts this season, Suzuki has hit .250 with a homer and three RBIs. He’s a talented defensive catcher, but the A’s still would like a little offensive production from their backstop.
- 2B Mark Ellis: Ellis, currently the only Athletic left from the good old days, is batting just .218 through 22 games this year. At 33 years of age, Ellis is most likely in his final season with the green-and-gold, as the team will likely want to go young next season. He’s still a tremendous defensive player, but the A’s need their nine regulars to start producing consistent numbers.
- OF David DeJesus: DeJesus, acquired in a trade that sent Vin Mazzaro to the Royals, is not off to a great start with his new team in Oakland. The A’s new outfielder is hitting just .239 with 7 RBIs. That simply won’t do. The A’s see DeJesus as an upgrade over Ryan Sweeney, but I don’t see it. I’d say they’re remarkably the same: no power, but they both have high batting averages usually.
To avoid sounding like a broken record, I will finish with this: The A’s have all the pitching talent in the world, but they’ve seriously lacked the type of offensive production that is going to be needed all season-long if they are to make it to their first post-season appearance since the 2006 season.