Oakland was supposed to be firmly ensconced in last place by this point in the season. Surprisingly, they are instead a .500 club, looking like they're a lot further along in their rebuilding effort than observers gave them credit for before the season started.
Much of that better-than-expected performance is due to Sean Manaea, author of the season's first no-hitter, who has emerged as a legitimate ace; he posted an April record of 4-2 with a minuscule 1.03 ERA. No one else has really exceeded projections, but the team has pulled together well enough to have an overall +3 run differential in going 14-14. Other than Manaea, the better-performing A's include Mark Canha, Matt Olson, and Stephen Piscotty, all of whom sport on-base percentages over .340, and second baseman Jed Lowrie, who leads Oakland batters in average, OBP, slugging, and RBI.
The A's still have the honor of fielding one of the worst defensive teams in the bigs; in a month of action, they committed 21 errors, seven of them by shortstop Marcus Semien.
Players to Watch
Stephen Piscotty: A former first-round draft choice, Piscotty had an impressive sophomore season with the Cardinals, batting .273 with 22 homers, then slumped last year and spent significant time in the minors. That made him expendable in St. Louis, and now the East Bay native and Stanford graduate will have a shot at the everyday right field job in Oakland.
Matt Olson: Of Olson's 24 Major League home runs last year, 13 were hit in the month of September, a rookie record, including a streak of five consecutive games with a longball. His power has been compared favorably to that of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, but the sample size is still small. He also has enough patience to take his walks, evidenced by on-base percentages around 100 points over his batting averages throughout his pro career.
Khris Davis: Now relegated to DH, the defensively-challenged Davis can focus completely on his hitting. The fee-swinger has gone yard 85 times over two seasons in Oakland, while also striking out 361 times. He's the only Athletic besides Hall-of-Famer Jimmie Foxx to post back-to-back 40+ homer seasons.
Bob Melvin: Now entering his seventh full season as manager of the A's, Melvin has proven to be well-suited to the Oakland environs. His quieter, more laid-back approach wasn't appreciated in Seattle after we all had gotten used to the energetic antics of Lou Piniella, and despite success with the Diamondbacks, he was canned out of frustration in Phoenix, where it was suggested he was scapegoated by then-GM Josh Byrnes because of poor results by Byrnes' player acquisitions. Oakland, though, appreciates what it's got, having given the two-time Manager of the Year a contract extension through 2019 and denied the Yankees permission to interview Melvin when they were looking to hire a new manager last winter.
Emilio Pagán: As a rookie in 2017, Pagán threw 501⁄3 innings in relief for the M's and did pretty well. He had a 7:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and was particularly effective at Safeco Field (2.92 ERA and a remarkable 0.73 WHIP in 242⁄3 innings). He was dealt to the Athletics in exchange for Ryon Healy in a swap of promising youngsters last November.
|Oakland Athletics||(1968 - present)|
|World Champions:||1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1989|
|League Champions:||1905, 1914, 1931, 1990|
|Division Titles:||1971, 1975, 1981, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013|