In April, the Oakland A's ranked 21st in MLB in runs scored. In May, they ranked 20th. In June, they ranked 19th. At this rate, they should lead the league in scoring by around July of 2019.
But wait, their improvement is accelerating! Over the past two weeks, they rank 12th in scoring. And over the last week, during which time they've gone 6-1 against the two grossest teams in baseball (Angels, Giants), they are third in MLB with 53 runs (the Rockies lead with 56, all at Coors Field).
Now, that's not to say the A's are suddenly among the best hitters in the league. Every team gets hot now and then, and this is probably just a fun small-sample heater. But we're at the end of June and it's really the first time all year that they've mashed as a group like this. In these last seven games they've scored at least five runs each time, and at least seven runs in five of them.
How long will this last? Who knows. It could end tonight against Madison Bumgarner, or it could last the rest of the first half as Oakland takes on another NL opponent (Pirates), a cellar-dweller (Twins), and a series in a hitter's park (Astros) before the All-Star Break. Or maybe a healthy Josh Reddick was the lynchpin and now they'll go all 2012 on us and stay hot all year (as your attorney, I cannot advise you to hold your breath waiting for that one). Let's not worry about that just yet, and instead bask in what has arguably been the most fun week of another depressing season.
Here are the current active hitters, in order of their wRC+ marks.
Danny Valencia, 3B | 144
We're halfway through the season, and Babe Valencia is still raking. He's not homering every day anymore, but he's getting hits consistently and batting at least .300 over just about any size of sample you want to look back on. His defense is still getting awful ratings and that is limiting his WAR value, but we're reaching a point where he looks so completely real that I actually don't want to trade him at the deadline -- I'd rather build the 2017 lineup with him as one of the centerpieces, regardless of whether he's a candidate for an extension beyond that point.
Jake Smolinski, OF | 133
Jake from A's Farm felt like an afterthought all spring, and he got off to a terrible start in Triple-A while he waited for his next chance in Oakland. But he's back and doing exactly what he's supposed to -- utterly annihilating lefty pitchers. He's 10-for-25 with 4 homers, 3 Ks, and 3 BB against southpaws so far, including this clutch pinch-hit dinger to help the A's to that thrilling 13-11 win on Tuesday:
Josh Reddick, OF | 122
He's only 1-for-9 since his return, but boy is it good to have him back. With all due respect to Max Muncy, of whom I am a well-established fan, getting Reddick back in the lineup is a huge upgrade -- and a cause for hope that at least a little bit of the team's offensive resurgence is for real.
Khris Davis, OF | 111
Khris Davis is tied for fifth in the AL with 19 homers. Who's he tied with? Chris Davis, of course.
Marcus Semien, SS | 110
Semien's batting average is finally creeping back up to a more repectable range (.245), one which better reflects his true talent. He's still hitting his dingers and drawing his walks, and now his overall batting profile better matches his underlying performance.
Josh Phegley, C | 108
It feels like he's barely played this year, since he's only made 78 plate appearances so far. But he's hitting alright when he gets the chance.
Stephen Vogt, C | 99
During this past week that the A's have been hot, Vogt is 8-for-25 with a homer, two doubles, three walks, and only one strikeout. Could he be starting to get back on track and resembling the All-Star of yesteryear?
Jed Lowrie, 2B | 97
Both Jed Lowrie and Brett Lawrie have been worth 0.5 bWAR, though Brett has the small edge in fWAR. And Brett needed a crazy-hot week just to make things that close.
Coco Crisp, OF | 96
Every time I think Coco is done, he gets hot again. His defense is definitely finished, beyond any shadow of a doubt, and he's now a massive liability anywhere in the outfield. But dang, there he goes, 12-for-28 over his last seven games with seven extra-base hits (two HR) and twice as many walks as strikeouts. Just like that, he's back to around league average at the plate. Well I'll be darned.
Billy Butler, DH | 77
I'm almost ready to talk about him again (since it's July tomorrow and trade season begins).
Yonder Alonso, 1B | 76
Pretty much the only useful thing he's doing at the plate is keeping the strikeouts down.
Billy Burns, OF | 54
Oh, Billy. We'll always have 2015. (Will Burns be the only person in all of A's-land who looks back fondly on that season?)
* * *