The Oakland Athletics are currently sitting at 53-45, and are 9-2 in their last 11 games. Not too shabby. But how? This team ranks in the basement in hitting. Sure, they have a few young stud pitchers, but how has Oakland managed to come out of the break on fire like this? Let's break down their typical starting lineup and try to find out:
2. Jonny Gomes—Gomes is a guy with time in TB, and in CIN, along with a short stint in Washington who has great power...if he can square up and make solid contact. After all, he did hit 20 home runs in 2009.
3. Josh Reddick—Reddick, who's enjoying a breakout campaign in 2012, was traded by the Red Sox for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney. So far it appears as if the A's got the best of the deal. Reddick, who is only 25 years old, has already clubbed 22 home runs this year. He's obviously the workhorse on this team.
4. Yoenis Cespedes—Cespedes' arrival to the major leagues came with plenty of fanfare and expectation, but it was always on people's minds whether or not he would pan out. Remember, for every Yu Darvish and Hideki Matsui, there is a Dice-K and a Kaz Matsui. Foreign players are a huge question mark, but so far, Cespedes appears to be the real deal as he's hitting around .300 and providing the A's with a dangerous right-handed bat.
Will Oakland reach the playoffs?
5. Chris Carter—Carter, also 25 years old, has been as solid as it gets for Oakland so far, as he's hit six home runs in just 15 games played, and he's hitting around .280. He's obviously still a question mark, but if he keeps playing the way he's playing, he should stick in Oakland from here on out.
6. Brandon Inge—Inge, who quickly became the forgotten man in Detroit, has seemingly re-discovered his youth in Oakland. The 35-year-old Inge has hit nine home runs, and provided a decent defensive option for the A's at third base during his tenure with the team. The definition of a hard-nosed veteran, Inge looks like he has something to prove after the Tigers cut him after twelve years with the team.
7. Kurt Suzuki—Suzuki, whose production from 2009 has nearly vanished, is still a presence behind the plate, throwing out 38 percent of base runners this year who try to steal against him. He's a veteran at this point, and he's managing the young Oakland pitchers with a fine tooth comb. He seemingly has good chemistry with the staff. One thing you don't want to do is mess with the battery, especially if it's working.
8. Brandon Hicks—Brandon Hicks, who hit .272 with 21 home runs in Triple-A Sacramento this year before being called up, has yet to translate that power to the big league level. Currently hitting eighth for Oakland, there is not a lot of pressure on Hicks to perform as well as he is seemingly capable of, although at the age of 26, his chances to show what he can do at this level may be running out.
9. Jemile Weeks—Weeks, the brother of Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks, is another guy who is as fast as they come. Not quite Henderson speed, but still, there is no reason that he can't swipe 30 bags in a season. His problem is the same as Crisp's, however—he needs to get on base in order to create the type of havoc that he is more than capable of. If that happens, and Weeks continues to hit ninth, it will be like having two leadoff hitters in the lineup for the A's.
Now that the A's are getting on base, and getting the opportunity to drive more runs in, they are finding themselves in an unfamiliar position at this time of year: buyers.
Contrary to popular belief, I don't think that the A's need a "big bat" in their lineup. They just need to maintain their current level of performance. Every contender is built differently. I sure as hell would not want to play Oakland in the playoffs. That's for sure.