Athletics Take Season Series from Royals

Jordan Diaz 08.24.23
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Oakland Athletics (36–91) have taken the season series from the Kansas City Royals (41–88). After being swept by the Baltimore Orioles, they become first team to reach 90 loses this season. That is a crown that no team wants to wear. The Athletics responded by taking two of three from the Royals and win the season series 4–2. The young players on the roster continue to improve every day, and taking series against similar teams will be important for their long term confidence. With this series over, the Athletics are now three games behind the Royals, who have the worst record in baseball this season.

The Athletics now go to the Southside to take on the Chicago White Sox in a four game series. The A’s took two out of three from the White Sox in Oakland in early July. It has been a similarly tough year for the White Sox both on and off the field. News broke earlier this week that the White Sox will consider relocating when their lease at Guaranteed Rate Field ends. The two fan bases have come together to plan a reverse boycott in Chicago for the first game of the series. These series against struggling teams are going to be important for the Athletics to win if they want to salvage anything they can from this dreadful season.

Young Stars Provide Hope

Zack Gelof

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At this point, it seems like we could write every article solely about Zack Gelof. He has truly been a bright shining light in the dullest, darkest season in A’s history. Going into the third game of this series, Gelof had reached base in 19 straight games. In 34 games this season, he is slashing .295/.363/.598. His 170 OPS+ and 1.6 bWAR are first amongst rookies since his call up to the majors. Of his 39 hits, 21 of them have gone for extra bases. He has 11 doubles, one triple, and nine home runs. Something that stands out, which is an aspect of his game which isn’t talked about much, is his steady glove at second base. In 147 chances this season, Gelof has one error. That steady presence along with Nick Allen at shortstop gives the young pitchers confidence to throw strikes.

Lawrence Butler

Lawrence Butler has hit the ground running and impressed Athletics fans. Manager Mark Kotsay is easing Lawrence into reps, having him hit against right handed pitching. In 38 at bats this season, Butler is slashing .237/.237/.368. He has three extra base hits in those 38 at-bats. He has two doubles and one home run he hit against the St. Louis Cardinals that went 111 mph off the bat. An area he needs to work on is his plate discipline. Like many young players, he is finding his eye at the plate and he has yet to draw a walk this season. Seeing more pitches and being more selective will allow him to excel at the plate even more.

You can see that he will be special in the future with his average exit velocity. Even though he is not as disciplined as Athletics fans would like, his 90.6 mph Average Exit Velocity is above league average (88.4 mph). Alone with that is his Barrel% which sits at 14.6%. Much higher than the league average at 6.9%. This is all to show that once he gets more confidence and finds his strike zone, he could be one of the best hitters in all of baseball.

Jordan Diaz

Jordan Diaz is a 23-year old third baseman and designated hitter who is not well known around the league, but is very highly regarded by Athletics fans. He hit two home runs in the series against the Royals. He is a player who gets limited opportunities, but when he does get them, he takes advantage of them. Earlier this season he hit three home runs in New York against the Yankees.

In 64 games this season, he has five doubles, nine home runs, and 22 RBI. He ranks in the top 25% of all hitters in Max Exit Velocity. According to Baseball Savant, he also ranks above league average in Barrel%, xBA, and HardHit%. Another young player who could benefit from greater discipline at the plate, more consistent reps would do him a world of good.

 

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