Friday, October 12, 2012

Strikeouts came back to bite Athletics

Back in early September, the one worry presented in this space for the Cinderella Oakland Athletics was their prestigious strikeout rate. At the time that post was created, the fear was that the inability of the A's to make consistent contact would prevent them from getting to the playoffs. Well, that fear was unfounded as the team had a remarkable run to the finish line. But the bugaboo of whiffs did ultimately sink them in their series against the Tigers.

Oh, the Tigers' pitching did have something to do with that. After all, Justin Verlander pitched twice in the series and Max Scherzer had a better strikeout rate than his CYA teammate. But still, the inability to hit the ball and put it in play sunk the A's. They struck out 29.5 percent of their plate appearances in this series. After watching all the series this week, it was thought with Granderson and A-Rod that the Yankees were striking out more (both those players have nine each). But the Yankees strikeout rate for their series is 22.9 percent.

The Oakland A's led the American League in strikeouts this season. It was always a problem that was masked by an incredible penchant to get the most out of every young starter and make every run count. They truly had a remarkable season and should be proud and thrilled with how far they came this season. But ultimately, against tough opposition pitching, you have to find a way to put the ball in play. When you do so, you at least have a chance to make things happen. The A's could not do that enough in their ALDS and it ultimately cost them.

Yoenis Cespedes 5 21 19 2 2 0.749 9.5%
Coco Crisp 5 22 22 0 2 0.5 9.1%
Josh Donaldson 5 18 17 1 4 0.686 22.2%
Stephen Drew 5 21 19 2 7 0.602 33.3%
Jonny Gomes 1 1 1 0 0 0 0.0%
George Kottaras 4 4 4 0 2 0 50.0%
Brandon Moss 5 17 15 2 7 0.411 41.2%
Derek Norris 5 12 12 0 6 0.167 50.0%
Cliff Pennington 5 17 14 3 4 0.697 23.5%
Josh Reddick 5 18 17 1 10 0.461 55.6%
Seth Smith 5 18 15 3 6 0.716 33.3%

There is no blame here. The A's took the series to the brink. They played great and had a great season. The only thing this post is trying to state is that the team had too many players that did not put the ball in play. You can survive a couple. But when six of your regular players are above 30 percent strikeout rates, it makes it that much tougher to score runs against very good pitching.

Even so, congrats, Oakland Athletics, on your wonderful ride and season. It was a blast.

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