The A’s offense is pretty simplistic once you boil it down. It is balanced with righties, lefties, switch hitters, power hitters, hitters for average, and speed. However, even with the emergence of consistency in Josh Donaldson’s production the offense and the team’s record revolves solely around two people. When one or the other or both are out of the lineup the results show the dominating effect that they have on the A’s and how sorely they are missed. Their presence eases the rest of the lineup and they can play their game without feeling they have to be the ones to carry the team.
August 25, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielderCoco Crisp
(4) and center fielderYoenis Cespedes
(52) congratulate each other after they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Oakland Athletics defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Yoenis Céspedes and Coco Crisp are the two hitters the A’s need to be healthy if they plan on even making a postseason run. Céspedes was struggling mightily after coming back from a hand injury and Coco just came back from injury. Those two cases caused the A’ struggle the last two weeks and drop them below .500 until the weekend.
Coco in the lineup puts everyone in the order they should be hitting in as well as sets the table for the players behind him to do some damage such as Jed Lowrie, Céspedes, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, etc. He also sees a ton of pitches and has extended at bats. This benefits the rest of the team by being able to see the repertoire of the pitcher as well as getting the pitchers pitch count up. His impact may not be easily seen but it is very tangible to the success of the Green and Gold.
Céspedes has an even bigger impact. The A’s have won over 100 games when Céspedes is in lineup, some 50 games over .500. When he is out of the lineup the A’s are well below the .500 mark. Him being in the lineup causes havoc for opposing pitchers and managers who have to try and carefully pitch around Céspedes without having whoever is hitting around him make them pay. Lately Donaldson has been the benefactor of Céspedes being in the lineup. And if the last couple days of Céspedes production is any foreshadowing of what’s to come, the A’s just might take off as they did in July of last season. Céspedes is the type of player who can carry a team through a rough patch when hot and he looks to be heating up in Texas.
Both these players have a major impact on a relatively unimposing lineup. Their presence alone makes the A’s a better team and causes problems for the opposition. With Coco’s speed and Céspedes’ power the A’s have a one two punch even if it doesn’t go in order. These two players can carry the A’s if they stay healthy which has been a concern so far this season. When healthy however, the A’s are a dangerous contender to repeat as AL West Champions in 2013.