Many Athletics fans are beginning to panic. The team that has dominated baseball for most of the season is in the midst of an offensive drought, a cracking bullpen and an error prone defense. While some concern is probably warranted, take for example Brandon Moss‘ troubles at the plate, the slump the team is facing really shouldn’t worry people as much as it is.
For the purpose of my argument, I’m only going to look at the years in which Bob Melvin was the manager in August. In 2014 the Athletics are 12-14 with 102 runs scored with two games remaining. Compare that with 2013 when the Athletics finished August at 14-13 with 124 runs scored and 2011 when they finished August 11-17 with 121 runs scored. I left out 2012 because that was the year that didn’t really start until July. In the three years I did include, the Athletics had their worst months in August and in 2011 and 2013 they came back to rebound in September with 14-12 and 19-8 win/loss records respectively.
August 2014 is shaping up to be a repeat of 2013 in terms of win record and the September schedule is built very similar to the 2013 schedule in terms of playing division rivals in potential contention so it is a bit premature to worry about the team’s ability to make it to the post season since they rebounded from an abysmal August last year with a 19-8 September. Also of note, in the two previous years that the A’s have finished the year as division champions, they entered September in second place with a deficit of two and three games.
While these numbers should fill your heart with hope for October, we can’t ignore the fact that some of our guys in green and gold are having truly terrible slumps. Josh Donaldson is swinging the bat at a .294 average over the past seven days which is an improvement. Brandon Moss, who has sucked for the past few weeks, is batting .193 since the All Star break but, over the past 7 days, he may have begun a climb out of the hole ever so slightly while batting .214. The most productive everyday player on the team over the past 30 days has been Josh Reddick who leads the team in average, runs, and home runs.
With Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson, Stephen Vogt and Nate Freiman showing signs of life at the plate, the Athletics may be hitting their stride in the home stretch of the season. If Moss can snap out of his funk and produce at pre-ASB levels, it is not inconceivable that the Athletics could have a .600+ September and walk away with the division for a third straight year.
In a way, it’s a testament to the quality of the Athletics team that each loss feels like the worst loss of all time but in reality, it’s not. If the Athletics continue to repeat history and wake up in September (last year Moss, Reddick, Norris, Donaldson, and Crisp combined for a .308 batting average) they should have no problem taking the division again. That being said, the Athletics cannot afford to start September with a deficit greater than two games with the Angels playing so well and the Mariners quickly catching up. Also, no matter who wins this weekend, the Mariners have a chance to gain ground in the division and we may very well have a division tie between any combination of the three top teams at the end of the season.
Taking three of the four games against the Angels will guarantee the A’s 15th consecutive winning month and pull the team into first place by a game. While I am not worried about the A’s season yet, every game from here on out is an absolute must win. Their defense needs to be tight, their plate appearances need to be disciplined and they have to stop leaving 50 men in scoring position every night. The time to worry may pop up at any time over the next month but let’s get into September before panic truly sets in.
Tags: Oakland Athletics