Top 5 A's takeaways from April
11 wins, 14 losses
The A’s went 11-14 during a streaky April in which they ran off a four-game losing streak, followed by a five-game winning streak, followed by a five-game losing streak. Unfortunately for them, the first month of 2017 brought some reminders of all that went wrong in 2016. Here’s a look back at the top five things we learned about the A’s in April...
HEALTH (OR LACK OF IT) IS STILL A PRIMARY STORYLINE
Before May even hit, the A’s had used the disabled list a whopping 10 times. Some of these were injuries that carried over from last year or the offseason, as was the case with pitchers Chris Bassitt (Tommy John surgery) and Daniel Mengden (broken foot). But April was marked by several key players hitting the shelf, including starters Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea and shortstop Marcus Semien, who will be sidelined until sometime in June with a fractured wrist. Part of the optimism leading into this season was that the A’s couldn’t possibly be more injury-plagued than last year, when they broke an Oakland record with 27 D.L. transactions. But they’re setting an early pace to break that mark again.
IN THEIR DEFENSE, A’S STILL STRUGGLING
The A’s spring training workouts were marked by players putting in extra early-morning work on defensive drills, as this area of the team has been a problem spot in recent seasons. But the month of April showed the A’s can still be a self-destructive team in the field. They committed 22 errors for the month, putting them among the American League leaders. Curiously, five of those errors came from pitchers, the most in the majors. The A’s simply aren’t a team that can overcome shooting itself in the foot to this degree.
KHRIS DAVIS CAN MAKE A RUN AT 50 HOMERS
Actually, the A’s left fielder is on a pace for 60 homers, but let’s not get carried away. He’ll hit a dry spell at some point. But after a 42-homer season last year that featured just three round-trippers in the first month, Davis bopped 10 homers this April. Rather than some one-season wonder, we’re seeing the continued development of one of the majors’ best pure power hitters. And the fact Davis goes deep regularly at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum, and boasts some of the best opposite-field power in the game, helps him avoid long homeless droughts. However …
THIS OFFENSE CAN’T SURVIVE ON HOMERS ALONE
The A’s finished the month tied for third in homers in the AL but scored the third fewest runs. Their offense tends to come in isolated bursts with the long ball, with too many quick 1-2-3 innings in between. They need to string more hits together and build the sort of sustained rallies that knock a starting pitcher from the game earlier. It will help if players such as Rajai Davis, Ryon Healy, Matt Joyce and Trevor Plouffe find their strokes and start providing the production the A’s had them penciled in for.
THE A’S ARE PRESSING THE RIGHT BUTTONS OFF THE FIELD
To be truthful, this season isn’t all about what happens in the standings. With the energy brought in by new team president Dave Kaval, and the promise of an announcement of plans for a new ballpark within the calendar year, the A’s are taking positive steps to re-engage their fan base. In the opening weeks of the season, they introduced a food truck courtyard area just outside the Coliseum, dubbed Championship Plaza, where fans can congregate and watch the game on a giant TV and re-enter with their tickets. The in-park concessions have been upgraded and new between-inning features have been added on the JumboTron. All of this didn’t boost attendance in April, but the A’s are thinking the right way about improving the game day experience.