Sure, it doesn't hurt that you're fresh off a series at Coors Field against a team whose starting rotation habitually gives up about a run an inning. But we're fast approaching the halfway point in the season, and the A's lineup -- yes, the same team that was on pace, a month ago, to shatter records for futility by being shutout every 5 games and collectively batting .208 -- is boasting a legitimate middle of the order. Check this out:
Seth Smith: .272/.386/.444 (.840 OPS)
Josh Reddick: .274/.346/.531 (.877 OPS)
Yoenis Cespedes: .273/.336/.485 (.821 OPS)
Brandon Inge (with A's): .253/.336/.495 (.831 OPS)
I won't even count Brandon Moss and his 7-game, Jack Custian "He could run for Mayor of Oakland right now!" barrage of awesomeness. I will, however, point out that Jonny Gomes has a .793 OPS (.225/.360/.432), .837 against LHPs.
This from a team that plays half its games in Oakland. This from a team that a month ago was so pathetic at the plate that a 1-0 deficit seemed insurmountable because it was.
Now, all this being said...Inge won't keep up this kind of pace if his, well, entire career is any indicator. Reddick's .531 slugging is probably "as good as it will ever get" for Josh, due to regress to the comfort of the mid-.400s. Cespedes can't stay on the field.
And then there's Smith. Take a moment to appreciate how good this guy has been. He has a .386 OBP that reflects how even early in the season when he wasn't hitting much, he was always getting on base. He started slugging more before the A's got to Coors. And like Matt Holliday, Josh Willingham, and countless others, he began the season making a first-time transition from the NL to the AL and facing a bevy (occasionally even a Beaven) of new pitchers. Smith should, IMO, be the A's regular #2 hitter behind Jemile Weeks -- who has also begun to pick it up a bit, with a .346 OBP so far in June.
Would love to add a Nick Swisher in 2013, would love to see Derek Norris in the lineup in 2013. There's plenty of room for the A's offense to grow -- plenty. But the seeds are there. Me likey.