I honestly can't understand the argument that the A's offense is doing fine. A number of people have pointed to the A's runs since the All-Star Break to say the A's are doing fine offensively. Yes, taken as a whole they are doing well. However, to me that ignores the real tipping point, where the A's traded their cleanup hitter for more pitching.
I am not against the trade or the philosophy behind the trade. I want an ace for October, but aces don't come cheap.
I also understand that the A's have the talent to make up for the loss of Yoenis Cespedes through multiple players, especially Stephen Vogt and Jonny Gomes. Thanks to bta47 for putting together a great article on that.
However, as of now, the A's wRC+ since the trade is 78. That's nearly 30 points lower than our season average of 106. Yes the A's have scored some runs, but primarily those were against a bad pitching staff in the Twins.
Even last night's two runs actually mask how bad the offense was, which managed a total of three singles all night. In Saturday's game against the Twins, we saw the offense load the bases with walks and Josh Donaldson got a slow bouncer just through the infield to plate two runs. Obviously I and all A's fans were happy that we got the runs, but 19/20 times that slow bouncer gets fielded and the inning is over. Of course, once Vogt and Derek Norris went deep, I breathed easier, but couldn't shake the feeling that it was really bad pitching and not good hitting that was getting those runs in.
The 78 wRC+ is terrible (24th in MLB in August...and that's including teams that have their pitchers hit). Yes it's over just 11 games. That is definitely a small sample. It may just be noise. But the timing of the noise can't just be ignored. The A's traded offense for defense, and immediately after the trade the offense has gone through a very rough stretch.
If you don't like wRC+, Let's look at some other August (but not august) stats:
- Runs scored: 17th
- Hits: 27th
- Doubles: 26th
- Home runs: 26th
- wOBA: 26th
- OPS: 27th (.616, yeesh)
Wait a second, I found a good one...The A's are first in MLB in walks with 45! It's something, I suppose, and the only thing that has even kept the offense afloat since losing Cespedes.
I am not saying that trading Cespedes is the direct cause of the team hitting .616. However, there may be some residual effect in breaking up an offense whose core has been roughly the same over the past three years, and opening up a defensive and offensive position that was basically set. It could just be small sample noise, but I think of it more as an adjustment period. To me, it's the price of breaking up the best team in baseball during a pennant race. I hope that we'll look back on the first half of August as just a bump in the road that gave the new offense time to jell. But whatever it is, it's gotta change. The A's are hitting like nine Puntos right now. And that might continue against a very good Kansas City pitching staff.
I do believe that the offense has enough talent to make up for the loss of Cespedes, but I don't think we can depend on the Angels losing forever. By the time the Halos roll into Oakland, the offense needs to get back on track. And anyone who says it's not off track...show me what you're looking at because all I see right now is some ugly numbers and bad at-bats.