Suddenly the Oakland A’s are an offensive juggernaut, something that often happens around mid June round these here parts. It’s not the turning of the weather, however, that is responsible so much as some terrific approaches that are making the A’s a nightmare to face.
It would be difficult to overstate how great Tony Kemp has been. Yes the A’s essentially stole Ramon Laureano from the rival Astros, but they lured Kemp as well and what a find he has turned out to be.
The raw numbers say plenty, yet don’t even begin to tell the story. for the season now, Kemp is batting .275/.393/.422, good for a robust 134 wRC+. And the fact that he plays a decent left field and second base has particular value in a Chad Pinder-y a sort of way.
But what stands out is the incredible quality of Kemp’s plate appearances of late. Routinely he is seeing 6-10 pitches, fouling off tough pitches, and driving up pitch counts as fast as he is driving pitchers crazy. How many times has he fouled off 3 strikes only to watch update barely miss for ball 4? He is David Fletcher against the A’s against the whole league.
The bottom line? He is a utility bench player sporting a .393 OBP and looking more indispensable by the day.
It was gratifying to watch Olson’s recent flurry of opposite-field hits, and then to see evidence that it did not stop him from subsequently pulling the ball with success and launching homeruns to right-center field.
The reality is that by taking outside pitches the other way, Olson simply took the outside corner away as a key weapon for opposing pitchers. That forces pitchers to come inside, where the smallest mistake in location becomes a pull hitter’s dream.
Meanwhile, spraying hit after hit the other way for a solid week Olson boosted his batting average significantly and it now stands at a rather stunning .289. That’s right: the .610 slugging Olson, batting against an extreme shift, and playing half his games in the pitcher-friendly Coliseum, is batting nearly .300.
Olson’s current line of .289/.374/.610 is somewhat aligned with Jason Giambi (career .277/.399/.516) only with moar slugs. It’s just an essential reminder that hitting the other way doesn’t stop you from pulling the ball. It just stops opposing pitchers from having a reliable way to get you out.
Instead of trading for Trevor Story, why not just enjoy Elvis’ June batting line of .289/.372/.421. perhaps most gratifying is that Andrus’ success is not the result of more 12-hoppers sneaking through the infield and a few pop flies finding soft landing spots.
The first six weeks of the season produced soft outs and a few soft hits. Now we are seeing a lot of hard hits, and even the outs are well struck. Someone has been eating his spinach and taking his other exit velocity supplements.
I was as hard on Elvis as anyone early in the season oh, and it was difficult not to be. He was just bad and there was no getting around it. But boy has he been good of late, and when the A’s have Kemp and Andrus at the bottom of the order it is giving them some impressive length to their lineup.
Hats off to Andrus for his resurgence, and to the A’s, collectively, for how crazy they are driving opposing pitchers — especially, but not limited to, the young ones. In 12 starts this year not at Fenway Park, Sean Manaea has an ERA of 2.32. See you at 6:40pm for all the fun.