Oakland, CA

A's Haven't Hit Much, But Promising Youngsters Await

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Daniel Susac, the A's 2022 first-round Draft pickConcreteOski

By Rich Campbell

The Oakland A’s are the worst hitting team in Major League Baseball.

Want proof? Their batting average of .211 is 30th in MLB. Oakland’s on-base percentage is .272, also last in MLB. Slugging percentage? Also dead last at .331.

In sum, the team’s slash line of .211/.272/.331 is abysmal.

But to keep the focus positive, let’s look at some high performers in (and joining) the Minor League system who may arrive in the next few years to address the team’s offensive woes.

First on the list is catcher Shea Langeliers, who was the MVP of the Futures Game last weekend, when he homered and threw out a runner on the bases. Acquired from the Atlanta Braves in the Matt Olson trade, the 24-year-old catcher is slashing .272/.365/.505 in 321 plate appearances in Triple-A Las Vegas this year. He seems likely to appear in Oakland at some point this season.

Another catcher with hitting prowess is Oakland’s 2020 first-round selection, 20-year-old Tyler Soderstrom, who is playing in High-A Lansing this year. He is slashing .253/.316/.492 in 80 games. Interestingly, he may not be a catcher much longer, as his bat is considered further advanced than his defense. As evidence, Soderstrom has played more innings at first base than catcher this year.

Soderstrom losing the catcher’s gear may be hastened by the addition this week of first rounder Daniel Susac, the 19th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. The University of Arizona catcher graduated high school the same year as Soderstrom, but has been playing in college. Across two seasons, he slashed .352/.413/.586 in that aluminum bat environment. He is expected to stick at catcher.

Zack Gelof was a 2021 second rounder who has slashed .309/.376/.463 in Double-A this year in 194 plate appearances. The 22-year-old third baseman returned recently from an injury, but seems to be on the fast track to the bigs.

A’s fans are already familiar with center fielder Cristian Pache, as he started the season in the Majors, but slashed an anemic .159/.203/.224 in 68 games. Since being sent to Triple-A on June 30, the 23-year-old has looked like a different hitter, slashing .327/.393/.592 in 56 plate appearances. The question of whether he can be a league-average hitter in the Majors remains, but at least progress is showing in Pache’s Triple-A results.

The development process is not linear, of course. It will be fun to revisit this list on Opening Day 2025 and see if these five players are making an impact in the Majors.

Record Recap: The A’s had a record of 21-41 when we last checked in and played at about the same pace since then, going 11-20 to fall to 32-61. At the All-Star break, their .344 winning percentage puts the team on pace for a 106-loss season. The team will need to play .449 ball to go 31-38 after the break to avoid losing 100 games.

Who Is the New Guy? With such a young team this year, this space will focus on a new player each month. Nick Allen is not new this month, but seems to have established himself as a regular contributor after being shuttled between Oakland and Las Vegas earlier this year. The middle infielder’s excellent glove has come as advertised, while his slash line is poor at .196/.271/.268, though not far below the team’s performance discussed above. Hopefully, the team will continue to pencil him into the lineup for the rest of this year.

Farewell: Christian Bethancourt appeared in 56 games for the A’s this year before being traded to the Rays for two fringe prospects. He was a league average (99 wRC+) offensive player who played first base and catcher and will be a versatile bench piece in Tampa. Bethancourt will turn 31 in September and as the A’s retool, flipping him for younger prospects was the right move.

Old Guys Report: The old guys -- Jed Lowrie (38 years old), Stephen Vogt (37) and Elvis Andrus (33) -- have continued to receive playing time. In the last game before the break, Vogt came off the bench late to go 1-for-1 and hit a sacrifice fly to lead the A’s to a road series win in Houston and send the team into the break on a positive note.

Coming Up: The A’s open the proverbial second half by hosting Detroit in a Thursday doubleheader, followed by visits from Texas and Houston. Those series are followed by a road trip to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels, before heading home to face their cross-bay rivals, the San Francisco Giants.

Rich Campbell is a Marketing Professor at Sonoma State University by day and A’s fan by night.  He has previously been a sports business contributor at Forbes.com and his academic writing has appeared in Sport Marketing Quarterly.  You can find him on Twitter @RichCampbellPhD.

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