As Eric Karabell wrote today on his blog, Josh Reddick had a huge weekend for the Oakland A's, hitting five home runs over two games. Reddick, of course, had been struggling all season. Considering the recently A's lost a 6-game lead on the Rangers in just seven days and are now in second place, they need more hot hitting from Reddick.
In fact, the amazing thing about the A's is that they're in this race despite Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes -- their two best position players last year -- both having much worse seasons.
Reddick: 4.8 WAR in 2012, 1.6 WAR in 2013
Cespedes: 3.7 WAR in 2012, 1.2 WAR in 2013
Despite the decline in production of the two outfielders, the A's have actually scored just as many runs as 2012 -- 4.47 runs per game in 2013 compared to 4.40 last year. One reason I was high on the A's heading into this season was that they received terrible production from three-quarters of their infield last year and were still a league-average offense (or slightly above when factoring in park effects). As expected, with the likes of Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie, the A's production from third base and shortstop has been much improved; but that's been erased by the declines from Reddick (.215/.299/.385) and Cespedes (.227/.295/.428).
It's near impossible to be a playoff team with two starting outfielders postings on-base percentages below .300 (not to mention part-timer Chris Young and his .282 OBP in 277 plate appearances). I have a feeling the A's playoff chances rest not on Sonny Gray's addition to the rotation but on Reddick and Cespedes.
The A's need to get hot right now because the Rangers' next 18 games are against sub-.500 teams. The A's have one more game with the Blue Jays followed by series against the Astros, Indians and Mariners. But then comes a tough stretch of Baltimore, Detroit, Tampa and Texas.
Reddick showed signs of heating up over the weekend. Now the A's need him to do it over the final 46 games.