It’s definitely been tale of two seasons for the A’s – the non-Rajai half, and the Rajai half.
That Rajai has become the star of this team would have seemed hilarious to me on Opening Day. I mean, we had Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi! But after witnessing the struggles of the power guys, it makes more and more sense.
What the second half of 2009 should teach the A’s brass is that this needs to be a speed and defense team. The Oakland Colosseum, widely known as a pitcher’s park, it also an anti-power hitter’s park and the expansive foul territory gives guys like Rajaii and Cliff Pennington room to run. That is, if they can hit the ball and/or get on base with regular frequency. Since the All Star break, here are the on-base percentages of our speed guys:
Rajai Davis – .383 (36 SB on the year)
Cliff Pennington – .351 (6 SB on the year in 40 games)
Adam Kennedy – .332 (19 SB on the year)
And of course, as of today, the Oakland A’s lead the majors in stolen bases since the All-Star break.
Add this to the fact that the A’s have scored more runs per game since the All Star break then before – and this is sans Holliday, Giambi, and Orlando Cabrera), and you have yourself a winning formula.
But can they keep it up? Rajai has never played a full season as any team’s starter in the major leagues and he is going to be 29 in October. Cliff Pennington is a rookie with only 40 games at the major league level. And Adam Kennedy is a veteran whose best days are probably behind him.
Even though, while we may not be able to depend on this year’s catalysts to be next year’s catalysts, it’s pretty obvious in which direction this team needs to go.