Heading into Thursday’s slate of action, the Oakland A’s had a one game lead on the Houston Astros. With a relatively easy collection of opponents ahead, it is entirely possible that this lead could extend further, putting the A’s in a relatively comfortable position atop the division.
And yet, the A’s continue to be discounted. MLB.com not only ranked the race for the AL West as the fourth best in baseball, but they feel that the Astros may be the favorites going forward.
Oakland A’s being discounted yet again
One can understand why others may be bullish on the Astros. Framber Valdez and Jake Odorizzi are set to return from injury in short order, helping to strengthen Houston’s pitching staff. Even with a tougher schedule ahead, having that duo return should make a major difference.
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Likewise, it is more difficult to quantify the A’s success. Not only have their biggest acquisitions for the bullpen either struggled or been injured, but their rotation has not lived up to expectations. Cole Irvin, who was acquired for cash considerations, has been their second best starter. That was not expected to be part of a winning formula.
The A’s lineup does not make much sense either for the casual observer. Matt Chapman has not been himself since the end of the 2019 season. Elvis Andrus has been a disaster with the bat. The A’s have plugged Jed Lowrie, who has been an amazing story, into the middle of the batting order, as he has typically hit second, third, or sixth, key spots in the lineup.
And yet, it is working. The A’s are a team that continually defies explanation or expectations, and this year has not been any different. Although that does not mean anything for the rest of the season, it does indicate that Oakland should not be counted out.
The Oakland A’s are not a team whose success makes much sense this year. Nonetheless, they can only be discounted at one’s own peril.