The Oakland A's are beating all expectations this year. With role players like Jemile Weeks, Brandon Inge, and Cliff Pennington contributing stolen bases, grand slams and spectacular plays on the field -- the A's are deeper than most people thought.
If you asked the people in the league who would be the top player for the A's one-third of the way into the season, Yoenis Cespedes would have been at the top of the list all by himself. Cespedes was the big bat that the A's spent money on and pinned all their hopes on him of having a big season.
At this point in the season, he's delivered; he was leading Major League rookies in RBI (21) and stolen bases (4) before he was placed on the 15 day DL because of a strained muscle in his left hand.
Beyond Cespedes, the Athletics were supposed to have a cast of characters that would live in mediocrity and obscurity. Suzuki has been slowing down, Barton started on the DL but hasn't hit his stride and Manny Ramirez hasn't touched home plate all season.
In times like these, teams look for players to step up. Boy, have they.
Let's start with the old guy: Brandon Inge. Inge is the wily vet that you hope to get when you pick him up from waivers. His mythical week where he had 4 home runs (2 of which were grand slams (and one a bottom of the ninth walk-off), 16 RBI and 20 TB almost propelled him into Oakland Athletic lore.
Inge may be out on the 15-day DL right now, but what he's done for the team is immeasurable: he's given them hope. Prior to Inge showing up, it seemed as though the A's would give up on games that were seemingly out of reach. Not anymore. As long as there's an at bat, they have a chance.
Then there's phenom Ryan Cook. Cook has tossed 20.2 innings this season and has not allowed a run. That's an Oakland record for consecutive scoreless innings by someone who started the season on the opening day roster since 1918 when Alex Kellner made it 21.
He's allowed opponents a .063 batting average, the lowest among Major League relievers then for good measure, and he has the allows the lowest slugging percentage (.094) and third lowest on-base percentage (.189).
He's only given up four hits, walked 10 and struck out 20 in his outings this year. Not bad for a kid who spent two-thirds of last year in the minors after throwing for 7.2 innings in Arizona and giving up 11 hits.
Who will represent the A's this year at the All Star game?
Lastly we end with All-Star (yes, I'm predicting it) Josh Reddick. The A's picked up Reddick and two minor leaguers from Boston in exchange for Ryan Sweeney and Andrew Bailey.
It's hard to tell who made off with the steal right now but the A's appear to have found a great outfielder that was fading away in Boston.
Reddick leads the A's in almost every batting category there is: No. 1 in average, AB, HR, Hits, Total Bags, Runs, RBI and tied for first in doubles. He's not just dominating the team but he's up there in the league as well. Reddick ranks fifth in the AL for TB, seventh for Runs and eighth in extra base hits.
And his fielding? He has a cannon for an arm. He's tied for first in the league with five assists from right field. The A's haven't seen this kind of fielder in years. To put it into perspective, David DeJesus was the leader in assists...he had six...for the entire year.
So, who's the MVP? Inge's numbers would not qualify him for the MVP so far but his heart would, Cook is impressive and has the numbers to back it up. However, both of them do not stand up to Josh Reddick and what he's done for the team this year.
If Reddick continues to play like this, not only would this be a career year for him but the A's might be dancing with something they haven't thought of in a while.... playoffs.