Oakland A's: 3 Biggest Disappointments for Team So Far in 2013
Through 73 games, there has been much more positive than negative to write about in regards to the Oakland A's. Currently, the club sits at 43-30, good for first in the American League West, three games ahead of the Texas Rangers.
While the second-best record in the AL is very much a positive accomplishment, there have been some causes for concern. The A's have been a whole that has been greater than the sum of all their parts currently available.
The story of the first half of the 2013 season has been about surprise production from players such as Josh Donaldson, Bartolo Colon and Jed Lowrie. That has been the positive. The negative has been the lack of production from a trio of core players expected to help Oakland return to the postseason.
So here are those players, the three biggest disappointments for the team so far in 2013.
3. Chris Young
Under general manager Billy Beane, the A's have developed a reputation for getting more player-for-player bang for their buck than most teams.
It is important to note that not a ton has been expected of Young. Seen as the fourth outfielder, Young was Oakland's Lloyd's of London insurance, as A's management has often relied on cut-rate policies to help them with outfield depth. Considering the injuries to Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes in 2012, it seemed like a wise idea to acquire Young from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In 47 games so far this season, Young has six home runs and 23 RBI. That's respectable over a full season (projected: 14 HR's, 52 RBI). What's not found in those stats has been the large stretches of ineptitude Young has had in Oakland.
What those numbers don't say is that Young has had 16 of those 23 RBI in six games, with three of those games coming against the Houston Astros. In total, Young has 11 hits in 34 at-bats (.324 average) with two homers and nine RBI against the hapless Astros and just 20 hits in 133 at-bats against everyone else (.150 average).
Across the board, Young's numbers are less than his career averages. His .186 batting average is 50 points less than his .236 career average. While Young isn't known for a high on-base percentage, it is currently 45 points lower than his career average (.271 in 2013/.316 career). Young's OPS is a paltry .630, nearly 120 points lower than his career .749 total.
Putting that in perspective, Eric Sogard's OPS is currently .663. Young earns $8.5 million, the most on the club along with Cespedes. Whether it is fair or not, Young is never supposed to be unfavorably compared to a second baseman like Sogard. As such, he has more than merited his place on this list.
2. Josh Reddick
No player embodied the 2012 Oakland A's more than Josh Reddick.
Playing far beyond expectations last year, Reddick smashed 32 home runs, won a Gold Glove and made cream pies a walk-off tradition at A's home games.
While expectations were a bit tempered from my point of view going into 2013, like many other pundits, I expected Reddick to positively contribute at the plate for the A's. What that largely meant was providing protection for Yoenis Cespedes in the middle of the lineup.
That has not happened.
Even before Reddick went to the disabled list with a wrist injury, the bearded right fielder was hitting just .152 with one home run and 14 RBI. His OPS was a measly .516 and a player that was seen as a 20-plus home run hitter was in the seventh and eighth spot in the lineup.
However, unlike Chris Young who continues to struggle, Reddick seems to be turning a corner. In 15 games for the month of June, he is hitting .286 with two home runs and five RBI, making for a much more promising .791 OPS.
Oakland is going to need that kind of production going forward from Reddick, who is still hitting just .206 even after warming up.
1. Brett Anderson
The biggest disappointment overall for the Oakland A's has easily been Brett Anderson.
Say what you will about Chris Young and Josh Reddick, but they have been in the lineup. What Young and Reddick haven't done at the plate, they have tried to mitigate with above-average defense.
But with Anderson, it has been a variation on a common theme: He simply cannot remain healthy. Since logging 30 starts in his 2009 rookie season, Anderson has only made 43 starts in the three-plus seasons that followed. That total of 259.2 innings is just 26 more than R.A Dickey pitched in 2012.
If Anderson had been effective before his most recent DL stint, maybe he would have avoided the top spot here, but in reality, Anderson was bad in his five starts and extended relief appearance in 2013.
All told, the pitcher expected to be the ace of the A's deep starting rotation was 1-4 with a 6.21 ERA. Looking deeper, Anderson allowed 9.9 hits and 4.7 walks per nine innings and had an unsightly 1.621 WHIP.
In other words, he was not right, and with August being a very optimistic estimate for a possible return, Anderson's year may have been derailed early again.
For that, as much as his poor production, he is Oakland's biggest disappointment thus far.
While Young, Reddick, and Anderson are the three most disappointing players for a good A's team, they have not been the only players to under-perform so far.
Looking at the landscape of the team, the A's will most need a healthy Brett Anderson to reach the highest point of their ceiling. Anderson proved in the 2012 playoffs that he is not just the A's most talented starter, but also could be the one who is the most ready to elevate himself in the postseason.
Reddick and Young have also not been up to par, but neither has fellow outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. That is not to say Cespedes has not been good in stretches, but a player I saw as a dark-horse MVP candidate has seen every statistical category take a dip (over 162 games) except for home runs and strikeouts.
The Cuban Missile, as Cespedes has been called, has largely been inaccurate, on pace to strike out 160 times this season. That is far too many for a player of his caliber, and largely responsible for Cespedes hitting just .235.
Ultimately, the A's will need its best players to play as such. Depth is great and usually helps to turn a contender into a champion, but winning big requires the best from a team's best. The sooner the A's get that kind of production consistently, the sooner winning the Commissioner's Trophy becomes a legitimate discussion on the other side of the Bay Area.
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