Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 11, 2006
BASEBALL: Still Hurting

Going in the opposite direction from the Red Sox, the A's have yet again rebounded from a slow start, going 59-31 (.656, a 106-win pace) since falling to 23-29 on May 30. Here's their batting and pitching numbers since then.

As you can see, the A's are relying on two things: balance and the Big Hurt. On the pitching side, four starters (Zito, Haren, Blanton and Loaiza) have started 75 of their 90 games, with Kirk Saarloos taking 9 others; none of the five has an ERA below 3.89 or above 4.39 in that period, although several A's relievers have been lights-out. Hitting-wise, there are multiple people just hitting well enough to keep the offense going; big guns Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher are batting .222 and .225, respectively, with a combined 25 homers, but have drawn enough walks (105) to avoid becoming offensive black holes. Jason Kendall's hit well and rarely come out of the lineup, leading the team in hits and runs. And Jay Payton has stepped up - Payton, the poor man's Garret Anderson, has always had good speed and defense, middling power, but no walks or steals, so he can be valuable if and only if he hits for a good average. Over the past 3 1/2 months he's batting .321, the best baseball of his career.

But the overall team otherwise doesn't look very impressive until you add vintage, rejuvenated Frank Thomas, batting .317/.625/.421 with 25 HR and 71 RBI in 76 games. I was high on Thomas' productivity back in April, but I don't think anyone expected this. The downside is that Oakland will enter October very much dependent upon keeping Thomas healthy (and could have to play without him if the A's make the Series).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:35 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

This season could give him the HOF push he could use (not need, in my opinion, but it'll help).

Here's hoping he's so great in the ALCS -- helping to destroy the Skankees -- that his HOF candidacy is assured . . . despite going 0-12 as the Mets sweep the A's.

Posted by: Mike at September 12, 2006 5:17 PM
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