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A’s lineup is hot in September, if only the pitchers would follow suit

Third in MLB in scoring this month

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s are 6-8 in September so far, but their losing record isn’t due to a lack of hitting.

The A’s lineup is one of the hottest in the majors this month. Out of 30 teams, they rank third in scoring, with a robust .274/.338/.438 line that puts them fourth in wRC+ as well as the fourth-lowest strikeout rate in the sport.

A’s in September

  • 88 runs (3rd in MLB)
  • 117 wRC+ (4th)
  • .274 average (5th)
  • .338 OBP (8th)
  • 17.5% strikeout rate (4th-best)
  • 6 sac flies (4th)

They’ve done all this without hitting for much power, with their homer and slugging numbers more middle-of-the-pack. Instead they’ve been making contact, getting on base, running hard, and cashing in. They’re batting .321 with runners in scoring position (42-for-131), plus several sac flies.

Their 88 runs in 14 games averages out to more than six per game, and that scoring has come consistently. Only four times in those 14 games have they failed to score at least five runs, including one shutout.

On an individual level, several hitters have stood out.

  • Starling Marte: .340/.397/.547, 163 wRC+, 2 HR, 12 runs
  • Mark Canha: .269/.377/.538, 154 wRC+, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 13 runs
  • Elvis Andrus: .347/.413/.452, 147 wRC+, 4.3% Ks
  • Matt Olson: .283/.349/.528, 136 wRC+, 3 HR, 17 RBI
  • Tony Kemp: .293/.370/.415, 124 wRC+, 1 HR, 0.0% Ks
  • Josh Harrison: .311/.338/.377, 101 wRC+, 10 RBI

Marte has continued shredding the ball like he did in August, though he was finally thrown out on the bases a couple times after 23 straight steals since being acquired. Canha is back after a recent slump, whether getting on base (13.1% BB) and scoring, or hitting for power and driving in runs.

Olson has been great nonstop all year, and now he’s feasting with all the runners on base ahead of him. His strikeout rate has been superb each month but now has dropped even lower to an amazing 12.7% mark.

He’s not the only one making a ton of contact. Andrus has only struck out twice in 46 plate appearances and he’s hitting the ball harder than he has all year, with a .361 xwOBA mark to back up that high average, and 6 RBI and 9 runs to show for it. Kemp hasn’t struck out at all this month in 46 plate appearances. Harrison (10.8% Ks) has been particularly clutch lately, with all 10 of his RBI coming in the past six games

On top of that list, Chad Pinder is 8-for-22 with 5 RBI in part-time duty, and Seth Brown is 4-for-9 with a double and a pair of walks since returning from the injured list.

Granted, some of this stretch has come against weaker competition, as Oakland has played eight of these games against the Tigers, Rangers, and Royals. But they also had six against contenders in the Blue Jays and White Sox.

Unfortunately, all this offense hasn’t led to many wins, because the pitching staff’s 6.69 ERA this month is the worst in the majors. The bullpen alone has contributed a 7.86 ERA and five blown saves, and the A’s have lost games by scores of 11-10, and 10-8, and 10-7, and twice 8-6.

Midway through the final month of the summer, with the postseason drifting further out of reach by the day, the lineup being hot might just be a moral victory. But if there’s any chance of climbing back into the race at the last moment, at least the A’s are already rolling on one side of the ball, if only they could get their pitching back on track.