The A’s had an amazing 2012 season culminating in an AL West Crown. Their recipe was simple yet executed to simplistic perfection; pitching, defense, and clutch hits from the entire lineup, 1-9. Fast forward to this season. The Green and Gold have been hit hard by what is seemingly the injury plague in 2013. This forces the lineup to be altered nearly daily to make the best possible match ups occur. However, one part of the lineup continues to struggle and it could cost the A’s their chance at October baseball this season if it does not change their production quickly.
The main problem starts with Derek Norris. After an 0 for 2 night with a walk Norris’ average has dropped to a dismal .218 and his on base percentage has dropped to .364. Now some may argue the above average on base percentage makes Norris have at least some value offensively. However, when you are a slow base runner and have no one hitting behind you either your value is exponentially diminished.
Coupled with those numbers for Norris comes the more alarming stats that show Norris has become a rally killer. With runners on base Norris is hitting .243. With runners in scoring position he is hitting .263. With the bases loaded Norris has not gotten a hit in his three plate appearances.
The only positive that comes from a Norris at bat it seems is that he averages over four and half pitches per at bat. That accounts for over 14 pitches a game. That is one player costing a pitcher an entire inning worth of pitches on one hitter.
The rest of the lineup behind Norris has been a revolving door of disappointment recently as well. This includes Nate Freiman, Adam Rosales (who has been getting hot in his defense), Eric Sogard, etc. When the top of the lineup is getting on base the bottom of the lineup has to be fundamental in their approach. They need to start getting runners into scoring position or simply moving them up 90 feet closer. Good things happen when runners get on base for most teams, but for the A’s it seems to be a non issue of leaving them stranded. Through 33 games played the A’s had left 233 runners on base good for a Top 10 worst in baseball standing. For a team who has to scratch runs to win leaving men on base at that rate has to change.
The A’s offense, mainly Derek Norris, has struggled as of late. With the pitching staff struggling too the disaster radar is starting to flicker a little. The A’s need the 7-9 hitters to begin to produce. This does not necessarily mean getting on base or driving in runs, though that would be nice obviously. More so this means they need to continue to move runners forward thus giving the top of the lineup the chance to do what they are supposed to do.