Oakland A roster hot in September, if only pitchers followed suit

The Oakland A’s are 6-8 in September so far, but their losing record isn’t due to a lack of hitting.

A lineup is one of the hottest majors this month. Out of 30 teams, they’re third in scoring, with a robust .274 / .338 / .438 line that puts them fourth in wRC + as well as the fourth-lowest strikeout rate in the sport.

See you in September

  • 88 races (3rd in MLB)
  • 117 wRC + (4th)
  • 0.274 on average (5th)
  • .338 OBP (8th)
  • 17.5% withdrawal rate (4th best)
  • 6 bag flies (4th)

They did it all without hitting for a lot of power, with their home runs and stroke counts more in the middle of the field. Instead, they made contact, made it to the bases, ran hard, and cashed. They hit .321 with runners in the scoring position (42-for-131), as well as several sack flies.

Their 88 points in 14 games are averaging over six per game, and that score is consistent. Only four times in those 14 games have they failed to score at least five points, including a shutout.

Individually, several hitters have stood out.

  • Starling Marte: .340 / .397 / .547, 163 wRC +, 2 HR, 12 strokes
  • Marc Canha: .269 .377 / .538, 154 wRC +, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 13 runs
  • Elvis Andrus: .347 / .413 / .452, 147 wRC +, 4.3% Ks
  • Matt Olson: .283 / .349 / .528, 136 wRC +, 3 HR, 17 RBI
  • Tony Kemp: .293 / .370 / .415, 124 wRC +, 1 RH, 0.0% Ks
  • Josh Harrison: .311 / .338 .377, 101 wRC +, 10 RBI

Marte continued to shred the ball like he did in August, although he was eventually sent off on bases a few times after 23 consecutive steals since his acquisition. Canha is back after a recent slump, whether it’s getting into base (13.1% BB) and scoring, or hitting for power and leading in races.

Olson has been great all year, and now he’s having a blast with all the riders on base ahead of him. His strikeout rate has been superb every month, but now he’s fallen even lower to an incredible 12.7%.

He is not the only one with a lot of contacts. Andrus has only struck two at bat in 46 home plate appearances and he’s hitting the ball harder than he’s been all year round, with a .361 xwOBA rating to support that high average, and 6 RBI and 9 runs to show for it. Kemp hasn’t pulled out at all this month in 46 home plate appearances. Harrison (10.8% Ks) has been particularly tight lately, with 10 RBIs in the last six games

At the top of this list, Chad Pinder is 8-for-22 with 5 RBI on part-time duty, and Seth brown is 4-for-9 with a double and a pair of walks since returning from the injured list.

Granted, part of that stretch encountered weaker competition, with Oakland having played eight of those games against the Tigers, Rangers and Royals. But they also had six against contenders for the Blue Jays and White Sox.

Sadly, that whole offense didn’t lead to many wins, as the pitching staff’s 6.69 ERA this month is the worst of the majors. The box alone contributed a 7.86 ERA and five missed saves, and the As’s lost games by scores of 11-10, and 10-8, and 10-7, and twice 8-6 .

Midway through the final month of summer, with the playoffs becoming more and more inaccessible by the day, the lineup being hot might just be a moral victory. But if there’s a chance to get back into the race at the last moment, at least the A’s are already rolling to one side of the ball, if only they could get their pitch back on track.


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