Like their neighbors across the bay, the A's got off to a slow start on the year, but have regained their balance and returned to .500 for the first time since opening day after winning 4 of their last 5 games.
What's so surprising about the A's winning lately, is that they're doing it without getting much offense at all. Everyone knew coming into the year that the A's were going to struggle at times to score runs, and that's very much so been the case, as they're averaging about 3.5 runs per game. Only 1 regular player is hitting over .262, and that player is Daric Barton who's only at .293. And while Barton has decent average, he's been obsolete in the run production department despite his favorable spot in the lineup. Barton has no home runs and just 3 RBI in his 12 games, both numbers way below the league average for first basemen. Josh Willingham has been the major run producer thus far, leading the team with 3 home runs and 7 RBI, but he's hitting just .241 and has struck out an alarming 17 times in his 41 at-bats. Hideki Matsui has also pitched in a bit with 2 homers and 7 RBI and the .262 average, but besides those guys, it's been pretty dismal at the plate for Oakland. If they didn't have Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden throwing for them, they'd probably be looking at a 2-10 record rather than the 6-6 record they sport, so it goes to show you just how key good pitching can be, even in the AL.
The A's have also been doing well without all-star closer Andrew Bailey. The young 26 year-old flame-thrower has been sidelined and hampered all year long with his strained forearm, but hopes to be back on the hill for the A's by the end of the month. In his absence, Brian Fuentes has been nails, locking down all 5 of his save chances and backed by nice peripheral numbers. So within a few weeks, the already stacked pitching staff in Oakland will be getting even stronger, but I don't think any A's fan is really worried about the pitching right now. They'll need to bring in a offensive player who can help kick-start this bunch sooner than later unless they get things going here in the second half of the month. If the A's head into May still sputtering offensively, I wouldn't be surprised to see them make some changes. One of their hotter bench players has been Andy LaRoche (hitting .365 in 19 at-bats) and he could find himself over at the hot corner more often if Kevin Kouzmanoff (.171 in 42 at-bats) doesn't start picking up the slack. I'm not ready to make judgements on players after just 2 weeks of play, just pointing out areas that need to be improved in coming weeks or else we'll see changes.
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