A’s Remain Disappointing On Defense


The A’s have been a painful team to watch this season, after all this was a team that was supposed to contend for a division title in 2011. Instead, the Athletics are trying to reach .500 with the very little time they have left this year.

After getting swept by the big-boys of the AL West, the Texas Rangers, the A’s sit 15.5 games back of Texas for first-place. They are also 14 games under .500, and with the way things have been going this season, Oakland’s chances at reaching .500 before the season’s end might be slim.

The Athletics, a team that entered the season with such high hopes, have fallen flat this season. Poor offensive numbers during the first-half buried the team, and wasted solid pitching performances from some of the team’s brightest stars.

Since the All-Star break, however, the team’s strengths have flip-flopped. The Athletics are hitting .286/.360/.458 as a team since the All-Star break, compared to their slash line of .233/.299/.337 prior to the break.

The pitching, meanwhile, has hit a major bump. Prior to the break, Oakland’s staff posted an AL best 3.13 team ERA, but in 27 games since the All-Star break, Oakland’s team ERA is 4.94.

So I guess a popular theme for Oakland this season is inconsistency. Another inconsistent element to Oakland’s game this season has been their defense. Entering the season, Oakland figured to feature one of the more reliable defenses in the game. Unfortunately, the team’s defense has not met those lofty expectations.

Entering Monday’s contest against the visiting Baltimore Orioles, the Athletics’ 98 errors this season lead all of baseball. Last season, Oakland’s defense committed just 99 all season long. They’re one away from matching that total.

General manager Billy Beane started the season with a defense that included the likes of 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, 2B Mark Ellis, and 1B Daric Barton. Unfortunately, those players mentioned are no longer a part of Oakland’s defense.

Kouzmanoff started off horribly, both offensively and defensively, and has been stuck in Triple-A since June. Ellis, a solid defender, struggled offensively, and the A’s traded him to Colorado. As for Barton, he struggled like Kouzmanoff, and was sent to Triple-A. It was later discovered that Barton was suffering from torn labrum in his right shoulder.

It’s presumed that both Kouzmanoff and Barton have seen their last days in Oakland. Kouzmanoff has apparently lost his starting role at third, and Barton’s failed to live up to the lofty expectations that surrounded him early in his career.

The A’s were hurting for offensive production earlier this season, and the team seemingly traded or exchanged solid defense for more run support. 2B Jemile Weeks took over for Ellis, and while the rookie-sensation has provided offensively, he’s committed 9 errors in 55 games this year.

The Athletics have been downright sloppy at times this season. Just look back on Saturday’s 7-1 loss at home for Oakland’s terrible showing on defense. Four errors in one game is downright embarrassing. Manager Bob Melvin had the right to rant the way he did after that loss. It’s disappointing to see a team struggle defensively for this long.

For those of you who are curious, the A’s fielding percentage this season .978. Athletics’ pitchers have committed a league-leading 17 errors this season as well. Anyway, just two quick facts about this season.