Athletics’ Are Putting Distance Between Themselves And The AL West
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Wednesday, July.31, 2013
By Chris Lacey (Lead Baseball Columnist/Minority Website Owner) Follow @aecanada12
For the most of this season in baseball it seemed like the Oakland Athletics were going to have some competition in the American League West Division.
The Texas Rangers were expected to challenge them for the division title, but that is not the case this season. Oakland has a five game lead over the Rangers with more than two months left in the baseball season.
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They are starting to separate themselves from the other teams in the division and one of the reasons has to do with their pitching. They have a solid starting rotation led by Bartolo Colon, and a good group of young starters. They have the 5th best starters ERA in the AL at 3.87.
The bullpen for the team is also superb with it being led by closer Grant Balfour and reliever Ryan Cook. Their bullpen is also why they have the most one-run victories in the AL at 21 this season. They have the 2nd best bullpen ERA in the AL at 3.01.
Cook is having a good year out of the bullpen for them with him holding opponents to a .211 batting average and an ERA of 2.45 in 46 innings pitched.
He is a nightmare for opposing teams by holding them to a .163 batting average with runners in scoring position. They have no chance with two outs and runners in scoring position, as indicated by teams only hitting .125 in this situation.
As mentioned before Colon is the ace of their rotation with his 14 wins and an ERA of 2.54 in 141.2 innings pitched. This is the lowest ERA in his career, since he had an ERA of 2.93 in 2002 when he pitched for both the Cleveland Indians and Montreal Expos.
He is not the same pitcher he was in the past, but like fine wine he gets better with age. Colon had relied in the past to get the opposition with strikeouts, and now he pitches more to contact to get opposing batters out.
He only has 77 strikeouts on the season, but has shown impeccable control by only walking 18 batters to include a WHIP of 1.09.
The veteran right-hander is holding the opposition to a batting average of .256 on the season, with right-handers hitting .253 against him in 261 at-bats.
He is also very good with runners in scoring position, as teams only have a .229 batting average in this situation. It becomes almost impossible to have any success against him with two outs and runners in scoring position by him holding teams to a .150 average.
Colon is not only great for their rotation, but he can also serve as a mentor to the younger pitchers in their rotation.
Speaking of the young arms in their rotation, Oakland has a good collection of young pitchers that can keep them competitive for years to come. They are A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, and Dan Straily.
Griffin has the most wins from this group of quality arms with 10 wins and he leads the Athletics in strikeouts 111, while throwing 140.2 innings this season. The one thing the young right-hander needs to work on is limiting the HRs he surrenders, with him giving up 26 so far.
He is holding opposing batters to a .233 average on the season, and left-handers only have a .229 average in 293 at-bats against him. He is just as solid with runners in scoring position, as indicated by him holding teams to a .241 average.
The pitching gets most of the praise for the club, but the offense is stellar as well. The Athletics are 7th in AL with 479 runs scored.
The leaders on offense for them are outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and third baseman Josh Donaldson. Cespedes has the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field and always puts on a show during batting practice.
He does a low average with him hitting just .232, but he more than make up for it with him crushing 16 HRs and having 50 RBIs. He also knows how to hit well with runners in scoring position, as indicated by his .280 average to go along with 28 RBIs.
Donaldson is having a great season for Oakland and he also leads the team with 61 RBIs while having a .295 average. He is right-handed but prefers to face southpaws, with his .336 average and 1.002 OPS.
He makes life very tough for opposing pitchers with runners in scoring position, as indicated by his .349/.470/.958 triple-slash with 40 RBIs in this situation.
There is one more player on offense that is very under-rated for them, and this is their shortstop Jed Lowrie. Lowrie has 114 hits on the season along with a .292 batting average to go along with 27 Doubles and 43 RBIs.
The thing that makes him very valuable is that he is switch-hitter. He loves facing right-handers as shown by his .298 average against them. He also knows how to hit well with runners in scoring position with him having a .299 average in 77 at-bats this season.
He is a great all-round hitter for them and plays solid defense for the team as well.
The Athletics have a solid team while receiving contributions from every player on their roster and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them playing in the World Series this year.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***
A big thank-you goes out to our ”Lead Baseball Columnist and Minority Website Owner” Chris Lacey. Chris has been a fan of watching baseball since the age of 13. Now he does like all sports – but his favorites after baseball are hockey and basketball.
Chris is very good with computers and is a college graduate.
Chris is very active on Twitter and especially during the baseball season chatting with other Diamondbacks fans. Be sure to follow him and talk about the great game of baseball. Chris is addicted to writing baseball.
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Posted on July 31, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged @aecanada12 on twitter, A.J. Griffin, AL West, bartolo colon, cleveland indians, dan straily, grant balfour, jarrod parker, jed lowrie, josh donaldson, montreal expos, oakland athletics, ryan cook, texas rangers, tommy milone, yoenis cespedes. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.