Let’s face it, the A’s don’t boast much power on offense. What they do have, however, is some speed. The A’s will likely roll out with a much different attack plan this year under Bob Melvin, who will look to “manufacture” runs rather than wait around for the long ball. This marks a significant shift from the old “Moneyball” days of the early 2000’s when the A’s hated stealing bases and saw them as nothing more than potential outs and unnecessary risks on offense.
These Athletics, however, are much different in the sense that they don’t have the luxury of waiting around for the two-run homer. No, instead these A’s will likely have to rely on what they do have on offense in order to stay afloat in the highly competitive and stacked American League West division. Manufacturing runs by stealing bases and putting pressure on opposing pitchers and defenses will be Oakland’s game plan entering the new season.
The A’s could opt to roll out with a lineup that includes Jemile Weeks, Cliff Pennington, and Coco Crisp leading off. These three players, in theory, would help the A’s get on-base and help put pressure on opposing pitchers and defenses. It’s almost, if you think about it, the anit-Moneyball approach; instead of waiting around for someone to hit a two-run bomb, the idea is to have fast, efficient base runners moving from one base to the next. This approach, if you’ve read Moneyball, wouldn’t have been a popular one in Oakland’s clubhouse during the early 2000’s.
There’s a shift, though, in Oakland’s thinking. Last year, the A’s stole 117 bases (14th in MLB) and stole a total of 156 the year before that. The A’s had just 88 stolen bases in 2008 and 52 in 2007. Even more eye opening, the A’s stole just 46 bases during the 2002 record-setting season, which the book Moneyball is based on.
The A’s aren’t expected to compete for the division’s top spot, but if the team does find ways to “manufacture” runs this year, they could surprise a few people. Putting pressure on opposing teams and taking advantage of their mistakes will help the Athletics to remain somewhat relevant in the newly stacked AL West and baseball in general.