The Pioneer

Can Oakland’s offense make-up for lackluster pitching staff?

Nick Piper,
Contributor

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The 2018 Major League Baseball season is now in full swing, and the Oakland Athletics have started out predictably mediocre. A month into the season, the team has earned an 11-11 record which already puts them four and a half games back of the defending World Series Champion, the Houston Astros.

Coming off a 75-87 record that put them dead last in the American League West division in 2017, the A’s have had to win six out of their last seven games just to bring their record back to a pedestrian 11-11. Having a .500 record is considered “average” by MLB standards but if the offense can keep hitting the ball out of the park and the pitching can keep it in, the A’s might start trending in the right direction for the first time in four years.

The A’s have a young, inexperienced but raw pitching staff that changes drastically every year due to lack of money and, quite frankly, loyalty. It is near impossible for the team to keep up with the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox who more than triple the A’s payroll. Between lack of pitching and streaky offense, the A’s could be destined for another below average season that will most likely put their beloved coach Bob Melvin in the hot seat.

In 2017, the A’s hit 234 home runs which were the fourth highest total among all other MLB teams yet their overall batting average was .246 which means out of 100 times at bat, they would get a hit approximately 25 times. This is not a stat any MLB hitting coach would want to see.

So far, the 2018 A’s pitching staff have given up an average of just above 4.5 runs per game which keeps them locked in as last year’s 21 out of 30 pitching rotations.

The Oakland A’s have a long season ahead of them and I can only imagine that beefing up the pitching staff is at the forefront of general manager, David Forst’s mind.  As shown in the 2011 blockbuster movie, “Moneyball,” the Athletics have a knack for trading away some of their bigger names and getting little in return.

Yoenis Cespedes was the trade heard around the world in 2014. The decision to part ways with Cespedes marked a time when all A’s fans remember where they were when the A’s traded Cuban sensation, Yoenis Cespedes, to the Boston Red Sox for lefty pitcher Jon Lester and utility player Johnny Gomes. That trade single-handedly cost the A’s a shot at a real playoff run by disturbing the natural chemistry of the team.

However, the team did re-sign heavy hitter Khris Davis to a one-year deal worth 10.5 million dollars and added two-time all-star catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, for the current 2018 season to help solidify the offense and improve upon their defense.

In addition to this, among the cluster of players that only their mothers have heard of, third baseman Matt Chapman is developing into a rising star. Chapman leads the team in home runs and runs batted in (RBI) while playing some of the best defense at third base I’ve seen since Josh Donaldson left about three years ago.

“This is not the way we envisioned starting out the year. We have a lot of things to ongoing forward but we can’t afford to give up any more ground,” said team manager Bob Melvin. Despite the A’s extending Melvin’s contract through 2019, it is highly possible that if the Athletics don’t show any improvement this year, they could be on a hunt for a new leader in the clubhouse.

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