Around this time of year, MLB.com asks its beat writers to put together a year-in-review for each of the league’s 30 teams. Tom Singer took care of the task for the Oakland A’s, who struggled to a 75-87 record this past season and a last place finish in the American League West division.
Some lowlights of the A’s 2009 season, courtesy of Singer:
- Oakland finished in the
AL West cellar for the first time since 1998, and lingered there for 106 total days.
- The A’s have been around for 109 years and have never had such a long stretch at the bottom of the standings.
- The offense reached fewer total bases than any other team in the American League.
- The team’s combined .328 on-base percentage ranked 21st in all of baseball and their .397 slugging percentage ranked 25th.
- The 2009 A’s finished last in the American League in home runs. That hadn’t happened since the organization was in Kansas City.
But fear not, A’s fans, GM Billy Beane has a plan:
“Our organization has two waves of players,” Beane said this week. “We have a
strong group of young pitchers up in the Majors, and we have a group of
young hitters coming up behind them who will be ready soon. It’s a
process we went through in the 1990s, so we know how it works.”
It’s hard to doubt the guy. The last time the A’s rattled off three straight losing seasons (1996-1998) the next eight years brought four division championships and four second-place finishes. And he’s right about the young pitching staff, a group that compiled the AL’s third-lowest ERA and set a franchise record for
strikeouts. There is some hope for Oakland.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.