Midway Point Marks
So the A’s have played half their schedule. The one take away? These guys can’t hit. Their offense as a whole has been worth 3.0 WAR so far this campaign, tied for worst in the American League with their fellow offensively-challenged brethren the Seattle Mariners and around six and a half times worse than the AL leading New York Yankees (19.9). Using the other metrics the A’s still fall far short of their AL counterparts:
There is always the argument that pitching wins ballgames, a philosophy I believed for most of my life, until now. Because the pitching couldn’t really be much better – yet this offense is so punchless that it doesn’t make a difference. When a two-run lead is tantamount to insurmountable you have a big problem.
The blame can really go all around on this one. There is not one hitter being “dragged down” by the others. The team’s “best” and I use that word very judiciously, position player is Coco Crisp. Crisp leads the team with 1.2 WAR. The best hitter in the lineup using wRC+ as a metric is Josh Willingham (104) same as using wOBA (.321) as the metric. For comparison’s sake the wRC+ number is 45th best in the AL among the 84 qualified hitters, and 47th best for wOBA. Pretty pathetic stuff and there is a big dropoff from there. This team has four regulars at negative WAR, David DeJesus (-0.1), Cliff Pennington (-0.3), Hideki Matsui (-0.3) and Daric Barton (-0.3).
So where does this leave us? Presently the A’s are fourth in a four team division – which is obviously far from ideal.
While there may be some who look at the above and say, well with the Rangers stalling a seven game deficit at the end of June isn’t the worst thing right? Here I disagree. To call the A’s a fringe contender is to not be dealing in reality. The A’s have been mired in last place since May 30th – while I fully believe they could finish in third or even second place, and strongly believe they will not finish the season as cellar-dwellers in the weak AL West, finishing first is another thing altogether. The Rangers are going to be better, and they can add players to fix their shaky bullpen by trading from their rich system and/or taking on expensive contracts. The A’s do not have the same leverage, even the Angels and Mariners have more leverage in that respect. So this season is over despite the “return” of Rich Harden, and the impending returns of Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross.
The sell off should occur. The young guys should get starts. It is time to “wait ’til next year”. The bullpen in particular offers us a few opportunities to get some good quality bats in return, if one of Grant Balfour, Craig Breslow, Brian Fuentes or Michael Wuertz is not dealt for a bat by the end of this year we are really making a big mistake. The starting pitching I feel should be untouchable, or close to it but the bullpen arms can go as can all three outfielders whose contracts expire after this year. Mark Ellis should be shipped out to anyone who will take him, if for no other reason than to get playing time for someone currently in Sacramento. Kurt Suzuki should be shopped as well, as teams are always willing to overpay for catchers and Boston right now is one team on the market with full pockets and a full farm system.
Halfway through the season, this team gets an F – 2011 is done.