However, there has been one thing that the ‘new look’ A’s have been able to show throughout their first 23 games, which that is putting the ball in play. The last few seasons, Oakland has been a very ‘hit or miss’ type ball club, willing to sacrifice contact in order to get on base and hit home runs. This year, the young squad has found a way to correct some of those flaws that past rosters couldn’t conquer, which starts with strikeouts.
In their first playoff run in 2012, the Green and Gold struck out at a historic rate that topped the league. And when I say the league, I mean that those 2012 loveable losers who won our hearts, K’d more times than any other American League organization … in the history of the American League.
Side Note: I think that’s in a tragic way, slightly impressive.
This is because the A’s have always embraced a hitting philosophy that is OK with strikeouts, so long as those that do it a lot (Jack Cust, Erubiel Durazo, Brandon Moss, etc.) also contribute by getting on base and peppering balls out of the yard.
Yet, through their first 20 games, Oakland has registered the 2nd lowest strikeout percentage in the MLB, demonstrating how the turnover of the whole lineup made by Billy Beane has made (on purpose or not) massive strides, developing their own offensive identity.
According to FanGraphs, the A’s have shown an intriguing approach in two of the most key hitting statistics when it comes to patience:
O-swing% – The percentage of pitches outside the strike zone swung at
Z-swing% – The percentage of pitches inside the strike zone players swung at
In O-swing % they rank 27th and in Z-swing% they sit at 30th, both suggesting that they work the count better than nearly every other team. The fact that the offense ranks dead last in all of baseball in swinging at pitches in the strike zone I think suggests two things:
- They want to make the pitcher work and throw more pitches
- They really want to wait for THEIR pitch
In the past, one might argue this might lead to lots of strikeouts, but obviously that is not the case. From watching some of the ‘Turkey Hacks’ these guys take (ahem Brett Lawrie), you’d probably assume they aren’t the best at making contact, but the truth is the A’s have the lowest percentage of swings and misses in the whole league. RESPECT!
So they continue to not only take the most pitches, but they also make contact with the most pitches, which is not seen very often.
Now perhaps this is a by-product of their inconsistency and they are just fooling their fans into thinking that a bunch of ‘unproven nobodies’ can actually hit in the big leagues, but I think otherwise. I think this brand of baseball is one that should definitely aim this year’s team in a winning direction and we have just yet to see them put it all together.
I mean after all, why not us.