While sluggers like Khris Davis, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson garner most of the attention in the A's lineup, manager Bob Melvin has often said that Stephen Piscotty is truly the X-factor.
After a somewhat pedestrian start to the season, Piscotty is beginning to heat up, and that is great news for the A's. The 28-year-old went 2-for-4 with three RBI on Sunday in Detroit, including the go-ahead two-run double in the seventh inning to give Oakland a 5-3 lead in a game suspended by rain.
Piscotty has now reached base safely in 15 consecutive games and has gone 8-for-18 with three doubles and four walks in his last five contests.
"I feel like, while I'm not at my best, I've still been able to operate and have some good at-bats," Piscotty told reporters Sunday. "Still a little bit of work to go, but I'm seeing the ball well. I was able to get a couple of walks the other day. That's big for me. That's a good sign that I'm seeing the ball well."
When Piscotty is at his best, he adds much-needed length to the Oakland lineup. He can be a serious power threat in the fifth or sixth spot in the order, as he showed last year, belting a career-high 27 home runs, 41 doubles, and 88 RBI.
For the season, Piscotty is now slashing .263/.337/.409 with five homers and 22 RBI. Last year, he got off to an even slower start than he did this season, hitting just .227/.286/.349 through the month of May.
Piscotty caught fire midway through the season and that's when the A's really took off last year. He amassed 24 home runs from June through September, ranking near the top of the league. If Piscotty can pick up the power in a similar way this year, the A's will take their production to another level.
[RELATED: A's starting pitching beginning to turn around]
To really understand Piscotty's value in the lineup, just look his offensive numbers in wins versus losses. In A's victories this season, Piscotty is slashing .337/.383/.523. That line falls to .188/.291/.292 in Oakland's defeats.
The A's hope Piscotty's recent success marks the start of an extended hot streak into the All-Star break and beyond. His bat makes Oakland's lineup nearly impossible for pitchers to navigate, with dangerous hitters lurking from top to bottom.