The temptation to lash out in this space again and point a finger at the shortcomings and general malaise of the A’s shall be rebuffed today. It’s too easy to mention all the errors and the poor bullpen, along with the embarrassing fact that Oakland has the worst record in the American League. Instead I will write about the things which are going right for the team so far (and yes, there are some.)
1. Sonny Gray has been fantastic — everything you’d want out of a first round pick. Oakland’s ace has an unblemished 4-0 record with a miniscule ERA of 1.65 in seven starts. He would have an even better record had the relief corps held two other leads.
2. Tyler Clippard has walked the tightrope a few times, but looking at his line after 12 appearances, a 2.08 ERA with three saves is not bad. He has one blown save, but he seems to be getting more comfortable filling in for injured closer Sean Doolittle. His last save at Minnesota was an impressive five-out affair.
3. Evan Scribner has four holds and an ERA of 2.00 in 16 appearances. “Scribby” is out of options so the A’s were going to let him pitch himself off the team, which hasn’t happened. He had a great spring and is now one of the few reliable men in the bullpen. His new cutter is the genesis to his baseball Renaissance.
4. Jesse Chavez wasn’t handed a spot in the rotation coming out of the Cactus League. He fell behind both Kendall Graveman and Drew Pomeranz in the pecking order, but now he’s back where he feels he belongs. In eight appearances (four starts), he sports a respectable 2.56 earned run average.
5. Scott Kazmir will continue to be trade bait in this walk year of his if he continues to post quality starts and anything close to his current ERA of 2.75 — especially since he’s averaging over nine strikeouts per game.
6. Marcus Semien (remember, no error talk!) is proving he’s a big league hitter. After slugging two home runs off of King Felix yesterday, the rest of the AL is now aware that his .307 average is for real. Semien has a team-leading 39 hits.
7. Josh Reddick, so lost at the plate the last two-and-a-half seasons, in now a man reborn. Batting .316 with 22 RBI to match his uniform number, Reddick is back up to the top of the order, a place to which I’d never thought he’d return.
8. Ike Davis has played well at first base and is hitting a surprising .280, which must make Pittsburgh somewhat regret discarding him this offseason.
9. And the MVP of this young season so far is Stephen Vogt. He’s been fantastic behind the dish, blocking pitches and throwing out runners. But his bat is doing the loudest talking, with a .340 average, eight dingers and 26 RBI. Vogt leads the A’s in all three of those categories.
10. Their skipper has been Manager of the Year, in both leagues. If anyone can pull this team together, Bob Melvin is the guy.
So yes, the A’s are awful. You are what your record says you are – no excuses! But there are some bright spots … you just have to look really hard for them sometimes.