Entering the 2011 season, many expected the Oakland A’s to do well in a weakened American League West division. But, after the season’s first two months, the A’s are four games back of the Texas Rangers at 27-30. The A’s have been inconsistent for a majority of the season, with the starting rotation keeping the team near the .500 mark.
Offensively, the A’s have not played well enough to stay at or above the .500 mark for most of the year. The A’s rank 25th in runs scored (202), 25th in on-base percentage (.240), and 27th in slugging (.353). Oakland’s front office made a few additions this past winter—with Josh Willingham, David DeJesus, and Hideki Matsui coming to Oakland—but the team’s offense hasn’t found consistency in generating run support for a stellar starting rotation.
The A’s infield has been a major problem this season, as players like Daric Barton, Mark Ellis, and Kevin Kouzmanoff have all been disappointments thus far. Barton, who rebounded last season, is off to a terrible start, as he’s batting just .206/.320/.265 with no home runs and 13 RBIs in 52 games this season. Ellis, while a valuable defensive player for Oakland, is also having an awful 2011 campaign, as his .214 average is a far cry from his career average of .265. Ellis, 33, has been solid defensively for Oakland in the past, as has Barton, but these two infielders have failed to produce in Oakland’s lineup this season.
Kouzmanoff, meanwhile, hasn’t been much better. In 43 games this season, Kouzmanoff, 29, is batting .220/.264/.339 with 3 HR and 16 RBIs. Kouzmanoff has also made 8 errors this season, four away from matching last season’s total of 12. The A’s don’t have many options waiting to assume the role as starting third-baseman in Oakland, but if Kouzmanoff continues to play poorly, there’s no reason to keep him in the lineup.
Of Oakland’s new additions this season, Willingham has proved to be the biggest and possibly most important deal Billy Beane made this past winter. The A’s traded for the Nationals outfielder during the offseason, and so far, Willingham has flexed his muscles, leading the team with 10 HRs and 37 RBIs in 51 games this season. While Willingham has generated some recognition, as he should, the A’s are not seeing much from their DH Hideki Matsui.
Matsui, 36, hasn’t been very Godzilla-like this season, batting just .222/.277/.340 with 3 HR and 19 RBIs in 46 games this year. Matsui, as A’s GM Billy Beane points out, is probably not ‘finished,’ but it’s hard not to notice the declines in Matsui’s numbers. The A’s haven’t gotten much in return from their $4.25 million investment, but the team still holds out hope that Matsui’s numbers will rise and rebound from a slow start.
Any sort of offensive production would be welcomed from Matsui at this point, as the A’s are in dire need for some run support. Oakland pitchers have played extremely well this season, and it is a shame to see such talent like Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Gio Gonzalez go to waste due to poor run support.
It’ll be interesting to see whether or not some players like Matsui, Ellis, and Barton make necessary adjustments in order to rebound from their slow starts, but I’m sure Oakland is just looking to find some level of consistency on offense at some point during this season.