Remember this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kbTbg00AJU
Since June 16th, the Orc-ish Oakland A's have reeled off a smoking 27-7 streak. They have been simply the hottest team in the galaxy. Kate Upton is only barely this hot.
Over the same time period of time, the hometeam has plodded at a pedestrian 16-16. While we hold our breath for a "huge" Matt Harvey* (* substitute in your favorite marginal arm acquisition) trade, the Orcs have gobbled up the head start we had and we can't seem to shake them. So I figured that we might just have a look-see at who is driving the A's and try to determine whether this is just all Billy Beane smoke and mirrors or whether they might just stomp on us, all the while laughing at another feeble M's season.
Let me start with this, the A's have a pretty fine lineup but 27-7 is clearly rarified air and such a streak is highly unlikely to continue. The flip side is that a total Orc collapse isn't happening either. Since it does't look like there is a convenient cliff for us to jump off of, thereby guaranteeing a narrow escape, let's have a look at our pursuers.....the ones hot on our tail.
C--- Jonathon Lucroy, war horse: He isn't particulary good at anything this season (74 OPS and dWAR is upside down) but he's an experienced hand who is a career 105 bat. He isn't J. Bench, but he did once lead the league in doubles. He's OK.
1B-- Matt Olson, Rocket Man: Olson hit 24 HR's in just 59 games for the A's last season, Slugging at a .651 rate. This seasons he's hit 21 and his Slg% is now .446. He's still OPS+ing 114 and is surely the equal of Ryon Healy, the guy he displaced.
2B--Jed Lowrie, Can we do a pee test on this guy? Lowrie has long been a fine pro bat (105 career OPS+) and cabable IF, but this year he's banging away at a career high of 134, this after a 121 last season. He walks a ton, has some pop and isn't going to collapse. He's a guy you absolutely love if he's wearing the home colors. He's a 3.6 WAR guy right now. He's better than our 2B, like it or not.
SS--Marcus Semien, he ain't bad! Semien has run out OPS+ #'s in the 90's for 5 consecutive years and he brings a + SS glove. He isn't Segura, but he's a heck of a MLB SS. And he's not going to suddenly collapse, either. Drats to that!
3B--Matt Chapman, he's better than Kyle Seager! He's now played 172 MLB games, has 26 HR's, Slg% .460, has an OPS+ of 121 and has racked up (B-R) 5.0 dWAR. FIVE POINT ZERO! Over the same period, Kyle Seager has 0.9. When Seager won his GG he had a 1.6 season. Chapman is really good. Don't these guys have any holes in the lineup?
LF--Matt Joyce, but he's getting lapped! Joyce is 33 and has a career 113 bat. He's been an underrated guy. In '18, however, he's hitting just .203 and his OPS+ is 88. Whew....finally a hole in the lineup. Well, not so fast....lately LF has been manned by Mark Canha and Chad Pinder, 120 and 118, 23 homeruns between them, thank you. Those are bench guys. Well, we do have Andrew Romine........
CF--Dustin Fowler, Humbug! Fowler isn't very good, he's a 75 bat and a - 0.4 dWAR (B-R) guy...which sounds a lot like Heredia (80, -0.8), now that I think about it. But Canha gets a bunch of CF time, too...and he hits (see above) and has a 0.0 glove, split between LF and CF. We don't win this positional battle, either.
RF--Stephen Piscotty, who I wanted us to get a while back. Piscotty is a .790, 118 guy. He slumped last season (so St. Lous let him go) but he was a .800, 113 guy in '16. He's a fine MLB bat with 20-22 HR thump. He's a - glove this season, however, although he's basically been a neutral guy over the past 2 seasons. Teams win championships with guys like Piscotty. He isn't Haniger, but he's only a rung or two below. Advantage us......Giving us two now, SS and RF.
DH--Kris Davis, Baby Boomstick: OK, he's not a baby, he's 30, but he does make things go "Boom" with his stick. He's a an .866 bat (137) after posting .864, .834, .828 the previous 4 seasons. He K's like a champion, but he's headed for his 3rd consecutive 40 HR season. Davis gets discounted because of his propensity to strike out....but he's a fine DH. Just think of him as loud, one way or the other. Cruz is the better bat, but not by as much as you want to think.
In review, we win the battle at SS (by a large margin), in RF (but Piscotty is no slouch) and at DH (but Davis is gooooood). Let's call it a draw at 1B (where Cano may change the dynamic), CF and LF. Right now, the Orcs win at 2B and 3B, like it or not. C? Ah....give it to Zunino.
OK, because I have to walk the dogs, water a lawn, get my dad to the doctor, etc....I will pass on looking at the Orcs arms. Will say this...their rotation probably isn't ours (Paxton, Marco and LeBlanc are better than Manea, Cahill +), but they have a hellacious bullpen. And that's sort of the modern template for winning, isn't it.
These Orcs, like Orcs everywhere, aren't going away...unless their rotation collapses. We have the advantage on them....but we've dithered much of the month away and still haven't added an arm. Dipoto can be decisive, but he has not been this month. And, of course, they have this momentum thing with them....and that may play large right now.
There's your report. These guys aren't doing it with smoke and mirrors, but with established and productive pros.
Since there isn't that escape cliff nearby, hold onto your horses. It's going to be a race.