Athletics Swept by Guardians

Brent Rooker 06232023
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics (19–58) were swept by the Cleveland Guardians (36–38) during their three game series this past week. It is their eighth loss in a row, and their second straight series resulting in a sweep. The Athletics are in the midst of an oddly impressive stretch of baseball. Starting May 31 and ending on June 22, the A’s have had a five-game losing streak, a seven-game winning streak, and now an eight-game losing streak. The peaks and valleys of the season for this young roster are at the absolute extremes.

As the pitching has started to find its consistency, the bats have gone missing. To say the A’s have struggled to hit with runners in scoring position in their last eight games would be an understatement. In the three game series against the Guardians, the Athletics went 4-for-19 (.210). Over their eight game losing streak, 10-for-71 (.140).

This issue is exacerbated as the pitching has been much improved as of late. On the season, the Athletics pitching staff has thrown 670 innings with a 6.00 ERA, 1.555 WHIP, and a 4.4 BB/9. All league worst. In June, the staff has turned things around. In 161 innings, they have a 4.02 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and a 2.4 BB/9. These are massive improvements from an inexperienced pitching staff who are starting to find their consistency.

Veteran Bats Continue to Struggle

How long Athletics manager Mark Kotsay going to continue to pencil in the struggling veteran bats in the lineup is a mystery. Especially in the heart of the order. The likes of Seth Brown, Aledmys Diaz, Tony Kemp, and yes we need to start talking about Brent Rooker.

Seth Brown

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In 121 at bats this season, Brown is slashing .190/.258/.331. These aren’t exactly exciting numbers for generally your three or four hitter. Against lefties he has been non existent this season. He is 0-for-26 this season in at bats against left handed pitchers. OPS+ measures the OPS (on base percentage+slugging) against the league average. A league average hitter has a .100 OPS+. Seth Brown has a 68 OPS+ this season. Meaning he has been 32% worse than a league average hitter. And yet, he continues to hit in high leverage spots in the lineup. There is value in having his veteran presence in the lineup, but maybe a little further down in the order.

Aledmys Diaz

Aledmys Diaz BS
Diaz has been an underwhelming signing to say the least. Slashing .218/.270/.294 in 170 at bats. He is 8-for-38 in at bats with runners in scoring position. On top of all of this, he has been one of the worst defenders in all of baseball. He is in the bottom 2% of all shortstops in outs above average according to Baseball Savant. That’s not exactly what you would expect to get from a shortstop who won a World Series last season with the Houston Astros.

Tony Kemp

A fan favorite, Tony Kemp has always been the under dog Oakland fans love to root for. The last remaining piece from the Matt Chapman and Matt Olson era. He is slashing .179/.284/.250 in 168 at bats. His 56 OPS+ is 44% worse than the league average hitter. His .143 average with runners in scoring position isn’t getting it done. An incredible split for Tony Kemp is how he performs in day vs night games. In night games, Kemp is 25-for-104 (.240). In day games, 5-for-65 (.078). Without a rhyme or reason, it is one of the more interesting splits to follow in baseball this season.

Brent Rooker’s Struggles

Brent Rooker caught fire at the beginning of the season. He was one of the best bats in baseball early in the season. In April, Brent was hitting .358 (24-for-67) and had a league leading 1.262 OPS. These are Barry Bonds type of numbers. He looked like the prototypical Oakland Athletics signing. An undervalued player from another team gets a chance in Oakland and thrives. Rooker and Esteury Ruiz have often been the only reason to watch this team for much of the season. Since May, Rooker is hitting .161 (31-for-155) with 60 strike outs to 18 walks. He has been the teams best hitter for much of the season, but time will tell  how long can he continue to strike out in at bats with runners in scoring position before they try something new.

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