Oakland A’s: Grading the first third of the season

The Oakland A’s have been red hot so far this season. With a 37-22 record, they currently have the second best record in the majors behind none other than their Bay Area rival the San Francisco Giants. They have demonstrated their outstanding talent these past couple of months and ultimately proved already that they are the team to beat this year. Let’s grade the first third of the Athletics’ season thus far.

Pitching: A-

Sonny_Gray_(usable)

Sonny Gray

The Oakland A’s pitching started off a little rocky. First, two of the Athletics’ starters, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, both went under the knife and got Tommy John’s surgery. Then, former closer Jim Johnson disappointed fans and critics alike by not proving that he could be a star closer for the Athletics. There were some other changes that occurred in the first third of the season including long relievers Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz becoming starters and the acquisition of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jeff Francis.

Even though the Athletics bullpen has the lowest ERA in the MLB with a 2.91, there have been some major bumps along the way, which is why I am giving them an A-. Thankfully, pitchers like youngster and now ace Sonny Gray and veteran lefty Scott Kazmir have taken control of the starting rotation while newly appointed closer Sean Doolittle helps establish a sense of routine for the bullpen pitchers. The amount of talent among the Oakland A’s pitching staff is overwhelming and it seems as though they have finally found the right combination of pitchers that will make their bullpen unshakable. If they continue to pitch with precision and consistency, their bullpen will continue to succeed.

[The Oakland A’s ever changing bullpen]

Offense: A

The Oakland A’s bats have been on fire this season. The Athletics have the most runs overall and best on-base percentage in the MLB right now. To demonstrate the success they Athletics have been experiencing offensively, lets look back to the series against the Cleveland Indians in mid-May. The Athletics were able to scored 30 runs over the three games series while the Indians only scored six. And this is not the only team the Athletics have blown out this season. The Oakland A’s are currently on a five game winning streak where they have scored five or more runs in each game.

And, when we talk about offense, we have to talk about Josh Donaldson. Donaldson, who is leading the American League for the most runs and currently leading the All-Star voting at 3rd base with a more than 500,000 vote lead, has been outstanding this season. He has the best batting average, most RBI, homers, and hits, and the best OPS than any other Athletic. With this only being his third full major league season, his success has been pretty impressive.

[Oakland A’s: Why Josh Donaldson should make the All-Star team]

Defense: B+

The Oakland A’s use to be known for only their defensive skills. This year, they have been slacking slightly – especially in the infield. In April, the Athletics accumulated 25 errors over 29 games. Manager Bob Melvin quickly made changes to their pregame schedule so that the team could have more fielding practice before going to the batting cages. It seems to be working since the number of errors committed in May was significantly down with only 11 errors for that month.

However, Golden Glove outfielder Josh Reddick has been placed on the DL, which is a bit worrisome for the Athletics’ defense. The A’s have relied on Reddick’s laser arm since he is able to throw out a runner at third base all the way from right field. Without the same defensive force in the outfield, the Athletics may have a harder time stopping runners from getting into scoring position.

[The Oakland A’s first month rundown]

Overall: A-

The Athletics truly are one of the best teams in baseball at the moment. They are ranked number two in the ESPN power rankings after starting out at 15 during week two of the regular season. If the Oakland A’s can stay healthy, the depth in their bullpen and on their bench will take them to the postseason once again this year.