Yes, folks, it's mostly bad luck that has us where we're at right now. Stick with me and you'll see.
Remember post-All Star break when the A's weren't really hitting and went 23-5? Many here kept hinting at the fact that certain players were in pretty protracted slumps (Kendall, Crosby, Kotsay, even Chavez).
Johnson, Swisher, Ellis, and incredible good fortune were carrying the offense and the team. (I don't mention the pitching because it's remained so constant.)
The games that could have gone either way went our way again and again--the extra-inning win against Texas on the Kielty homer; the Payton catch in Texas; the Kendall tag at the plate; the comeback against Wickman that we eventually won with a two-out, nobody on rally in extras; a one-run victory over Santana by Blanton; the two comebacks at home (including the sulk-off) against the Angels. And all the Payton 3-run shots at just the right time. A lot of wins that could have gone either way went ours, and all the while many were worried because the many guys weren't hitting.
Well, the offense is clicking a bit less (Chavez and Kotsay are hitting more, but Johnson and Ellis' torrid pace has slowed; and Kendall and Hatteberg have now completely disappeared). But the real difference is how much the luck has changed.
Look at the recent streak:
Two one-run losses to the Twins, the second of those in the 9th when Joe Mauer's lead-off, opposite-field double falls a foot fair.
The inning from hell in the first loss to the Orioles. The 0-2 hbp, the Sammy swinging bunt, the critical error.
The second loss to the O's in which the ump blows a call horribly and it leads to three runs, in which the A's waste two one-out, bases loaded situations, including in the 9th when they seemed sure to win.
Last night's loss--clearly the least lucky of them all--in which they strand 13 (twice on lines drives by Swisher) and are beaten by a bloop double fielded by the first baseman.
Of course, it's luck combining with bad hitting and bad play. But the bad hitting was often there when we were winning--we acknowledged that on this site.
What I think this all means, then, is that when the luck gets more even--which it likely will--we won't look like the 120-win team or the 60-win team.
We'll look like the 90-win team. Which, plus or minus a few wins, is exactly what this collection of A's is.
We'll just have to find out if that's enough.