The Oakland Athletics: The Worst Offense in the American League

Colby PashContributor IMay 11, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 04:  Matt Holliday #5 of the Oakland Athletics tosses his bat in the air after he struck out in the eighth inning of their game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 4, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics are off to a dreadful start offensively, and their last place American League West record reflects it. Along with being last in their division, they also rank last in the American League in nearly every single offensive team statistic.

They rank last in the AL in on-base percentage, batting average, home runs, runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage, hits, stolen bases, stolen base percentage, and total bases. Though, it's not for a lack of trying by the cost-efficient General Manager Billy Beane.

In the off season the Athletics acquired three-time All-Star left fielder Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for closer Huston Street and two others.

In an effort to live up tot he high hopes set forth by the A's faithful, Holliday sought hitting instruction from former Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals super-slugger Mark McGwire before his Athletics' debut, according to an interview by the New York Times with McGwire in March.

Still after the A's dismal season a year ago, Holliday doesn't appear to be the answer.

So far Big Mac's instruction hasn't paid off as Holliday is off to a sloth-like start hitting only .226 through 28 games, with nearly as many strikeouts (23) as hits (26), and an on-base percentage of only .282. He's also slugging a puny .383, more than 200 points lower than his .607 slugging percentage last season with Colorado.

Although Holliday leads the team in RBI with 20 (24 less than Evan Longoria, the AL leader), his dismal start seems to have set the pace for the rest of the team.

There are two bright spots in the lineup. The brightest being the performance of catcher Kurt Suzuki. His .318 batting average is leading the team and remains the only batting average on the team over the .300 benchmark. He sets the bar for the Athletics in batting average, slugging, total bases, and hits.

The other bright spot is potential saturated slugger Jack Cust. Besides having a classic baseball name, he holds down the RBI producing fifth spot in the batting order with a decent, not great, .284 batting average and team leading .402 on-base percentage, which is aided by his team leading 19 bases on balls.

That's it for good news. The rest is pretty ugly.

After 29 games, the A's offensive earns an F. It's the worst offense in the American League.

Individual player production and statistics were coupled with wins and losses to achieve this grade. The individual player grades can be found on the following page.

The individual report cards, based on offensive production after 29 games (25 minimum at-bats):

  • Ryan Sweeney C, quite a few hits, but as lead-off man an OBP of .313 won't cut it.
  • Orlando Cabrera C-, considered a decent off-season acquisition, but with an OBP of only .278 he's not cut out to remain in the two-hole. Do you see a trend here?
  • Jason Giambi C-, 15 percent (the league average) of all runners he sees in scoring position end up scoring, but getting runners on base for him has been a major issue. Still, his BA is only .208. Giambi is about where you'd think at 38 years old.
  • Matt Holliday C-, his 20 RBIs lead the team but remain way too low; BA is too low; too many Ks and only 7 BB.
  • Jack Cust B+, strikeouts are high but then again, it's Jack Cust. His 19 BBs make up for it.
  • Kurt Suzuki A, great season so far. See above for a more thorough report
  • Mark Ellis D+, very, very limited production in his 63 at-bats
  • Bobby Crosby C+, hitting .262, which looks great compared to the rest of the club. Okay production otherwise, but by no means good.
  • Rajai Davis D-, leads the team with 3 stolen bases. Ugly BA (.200).
  • Travis Buck D-, pretty bad in limited chances.
  • Nomar Garciaparra D, his current stint on the DL might rejuvenate his flat numbers. 
  • Eric Chavez F, in 30 at-bats, he's the worst offensive player on the team at this point with zero runs and one RBI.
  • Landon Powell F, a touch better than Chavez, but still an F with limited chances.

While Kurt Suzuki is off to a career start and Jack Cust is performing where he's expected to, the rest of the team is still trying to get the pieces to fit. The offense is cold almost across the board.

Holliday has shown flashes of his capability over the past few weeks, but flashes aren't going to cut it. The Oakland Athletics need Holliday to live up to the hype in order for the team to overcome this early season hole they've found themselves in.

Even though he hasn't gotten much production from the top of his batting order, Manager Bob Geren hasn't ventured far from his opening day lineup card. He will in weeks to come. That is, if he wants to keep his job.