3 Athletics players who have struggled out of the gate and may not recover

Oakland Athletics v Cleveland Guardians
Oakland Athletics v Cleveland Guardians / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Aside from getting dunked on in two separate series by the Cleveland Guardians, the Oakland A's have shown flashes of competence this year. The bullpen has been sharp, led by fireballer Mason Miller and his 104 mph fastball. Paul Blackburn is off to a hot start, setting the record for longest scoreless streak for the A's since the franchise moved to Oakland in 1968. And Esteury Ruiz looks to have turned a corner after struggling down the stretch in 2023.

However, there has been plenty for fans to complain about as well. From Ruiz getting used in a platoon role despite his success to starter Alex Wood completely falling apart, the A's have earned every bit of their -35 run differential. Wood fits the bill for this article perfectly but we wrote about his issues yesterday so we'll skip him in this write up.

The following players have had a rough three weeks and if their struggles continue, they could find themselves out of a job sooner rather than later.

Joe Boyle had a ton of helium coming into this year. He pitched to a 1.69 ERA in a brief cup of coffee in the majors in 2023 and despite exhibiting control issues throughout his minor league career has elite stuff and a high ceiling.

Boyle started to lose the thread a bit during spring training. He finished the spring with a 19:15 strikeout to walk ratio and gave up 7 earned runs in his final outing in late March. Unfortunately for Boyle, those struggles have continued into the regular season.

To date, the righty has a 7.23 ERA with a slightly more encouraging 4.10 FIP, but has 18 strikeouts and 12 walks through 18.2 innings. He's given up at least 7 runs in two of his four starts and his next scheduled outing will come against a talented Yankees lineup on Wednesday.

With the news that Ken Waldichuk and Luis Medina are likely to start rehab stints later this week, Boyle is at risk of losing his spot in the rotation when they return. He hasn't pitched well enough to warrant the roster spot and his remaining option years are almost certainly going to come into effect later this month.

The best Boyle can hope for is to pitch well in his next two outings and work to get the walks under control. He's probably going to get sent down when those other guys start returning from the IL so Boyle just needs to continue to make progress and be ready to jump at the next opportunity that comes his way.

Nick Allen has been a bad hitter since he debuted back in 2022. In 224 games, he's posted a 56 wRC+, making him 44% worse than league average. His defense has been solid but there's no level of defensive play that can carry the type of bat Allen has provided.

The shortstop entered spring training with a revamped swing and hit well enough in the first few weeks of March that A's fans started to get excited about his potential. Allen ended up getting injured and he missed a bunch of time in mid to late March, and most of us just accepted his role on the team without question.

However, at the rate he's going he's arguably a DFA candidate. Allen is currently hitting .170/.241/.208 with just 2 doubles and 5 walks to go along with 13 strikeouts. His efforts so far have been good for a 40 wRC+, or 60% worse than the league average. That's untenable.

The A's already demoted Darell Hernaiz due to his inability to hit and Allen is trending in the same direction. The only things keeping him in the lineup every day are his strong defense at short and the lack of players capable of handling the position defensively in his stead.

Abraham Toro and Max Schuemann could probably fake it but top prospect Jacob Wilson isn't ready and Max Muncy isn't on the 40-man. Unless the A's want to make a drastic move, Allen will likely get a bit more leash to figure out the approach.

All that being said, another few months of this level of production will likely land Allen back in Triple-A. He's running out of time to prove that he's a capable major leaguer.

Seth Brown was once a decent platoon bat. Back in 2022, he hit .243/.320/.473 with 22 homers against right-handed pitchers. Outside of that, his playing time has been limited but he has generally been effective in the strong side of an outfield platoon.

This year has been different. Brown is now hitting .186/.250/.271 with just 2 doubles and a homer in 64 plate appearances. The power has evaporated and he's down to a career-low 7.2% walk rate. Part of the problem is that Brown is also a poor defender, so the one carrying tool he has is starting to slip away.

A's manager Mark Kotsay has given Brown every opportunity so far to get things going, but it hasn't happened. The lefty will turn 32 in a couple months and it's fair to ask the question of whether his ability to be a useful major leaguer has passed.

Brown just isn't impacting the ball like he has previously. His 38.1% hard hit rate is the lowest of his career and his .342 expected slugging percentage shows that his lack of success isn't just bad luck. In addition to the poor batted ball stats, he's striking out more than ever, as well as walking less than he ever has.

There's still time for him to turn things around and the way Mark Kotsay has treated his playing time, he'll certainly get plenty of opportunities to do so. However, if Brown has already played his last good season in an A's uniform, it wouldn't be all that surprising.