By Jordan Wevers @JordanWevers on August 25, 2014
Yoenis Cespedes is no longer a member of the Oakland Athletics. Their rotation experienced a massive overhaul before the 2014 MLB trade deadline. Manager Bob Melvin is 2-for-2 in guiding Oakland to the playoffs since taking over in 2012. He has a great shot at moving to 3-for-3. Despite being one of baseball's better teams this year, here are five things that could interfere with their success in September.
Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick are all excellent examples of this. While the first two of which were All-Stars in 2014, Donaldson has experienced quite a drop-off in his batting average compared to 2013. He can thank June for that, when he hit a miserable .181. Meanwhile, Moss was a monster in the first half batting .268 with 21 HRs and 66 RBI. In 28 games since the Midsummer Classic, he has hit .179 with 2 HRs and 11 RBI.
The A's exploded out of the gate with an insane runs for/against differential in 2014, currently sitting at a league high of +160 -- still very impressive. One might think they would be awesome in one-run games, but their record is only 18-17, a single game above .500 when there is marginal room for error. Tight games are a big part of September and October baseball, so the A's will need to be better in that department down the stretch.
For a team that went all-in at the trade deadline by acquiring pitcher's Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, it would be nice to know they had the support of a stellar defense -- especially since the A's play their home games in the spacious O.co Coliseum, a park notorious for giving pitchers the upper hand. They rank 25th in team FPCT, and have committed the fifth most errors in MLB.
The Athletics were nearly unstoppable in the early months, posting WPCT's above .600 in April, June and July. In August, however, they sit at 10-12 (.455). Regression was inevitable, so it will be interesting to see if they can regain playing the high level of baseball fans became so accustomed to early on in the final days of September.
The A's have a talented rotation, but experience levels are questionable. Lester is the only starter who has routinely surpassed the 200 innings mark in his career. Scott Kazmir logged 200+ IP once in 2007. Samardzija logged his only 200+ IP season last year. Youngster Sonny Gray and Hammel are yet to pitch 200 innings in a campaign. It's starting to show in the A's August record and in the rotations collective 4.49 ERA this month.
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