The 2012 Oakland A's were not expected to be very successful, but their offense has been downright laughable. As of May 31st, the A's rank second to last in the league in runs (164) and on base percentage (.288). Oakland ranks dead last in batting average (.210) and slugging (.332).
Horrible offensive numbers are nothing new to the A's. Last season, Oakland ranked 24th in the league with a .244 batting average and was 20th in the league in runs. However, the A's batting average this season is ridiculously low, and they have already been shut out nine times this season.
It is still early in the season, but not early enough to blame the .210 batting average on a small sample size. Through 51 games the A's have been shut out nine times, scored one run seven times, and put up two runs six times. The fact that they have been held to two runs or less 22 times and have somehow managed to win 22 games is kind of impressive in a depressing way.
If Oakland continues to fail at the plate they could put up the worst team batting average in American League history. According to baseball-almanac.com, the current record belongs to the 1910 Chicago White Sox who hit .212 as a team. The A's have plenty of time to get their act together and avoid setting such a dubious record, but there is no guarantee that they can pull it out.
You might be asking yourself, how does a team hit .210? In the case of the A's, it is a combination of things. They play in a tough park for hitters, have a new hitting coach, bad luck (.248 average on balls in play), and unfortunately, they don't have very many quality hitters. Josh Reddick currently leads the A's with a .266 average and is the only player hitting over .250. Other than Reddick, the A's only have three hitters with enough at bats to qualify. Those hitters are Jemile Weeks (.215), Kurt Suzuki (.208), and Cliff Pennington (.200).
One stat that may shed some light on the A's low batting average this season is their high amount of fly balls. Oakland batters have hit the ball in the air 59% of the time this season, the highest percentage of fly balls for any team in the league. That is a lot of fly balls for a team that plays in a pitchers park with a lineup with very little power. One of the strengths of the A's is their team speed, but they haven't capitalized on it enough because they are constantly hitting the ball in the air.
For A's fans their may be light at the end of the tunnel. Yoenis Cespedes is expected to return to the lineup and perhaps he can give a boost to the offense. Also, there is the possibility of Manny Ramirez being called up soon. Is Ramirez washed up? Probably. But maybe, just maybe, the A's will get a couple good months out of Manny and raise their team average to .213 and stay out of the record books. Maybe.
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*Daniel became a baseball fan growing up in the Central Valley of California. He started watching the Oakland A's during the Bash Brothers' era of the late 1980s. Daniel is still an A's fan despite the fact that there hasn't been much "bashing" in Oakland lately. He is currently a Featured Contributor on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.