Anemic A’s offense set to be worst in franchise history

As the Oakland A’s wrap up the season with their final two games, 2022 may go down as the worst offensive season in franchise history.

Through Monday, the A’s were batting .216 as a team, seven points lower than the next-worst year, when they hit .223 in 1908. The A’s are also tied with the 1908 team for the worst on-base percentage in franchise history, at .281.

The Oakland batting average would rank fourth-worst among full (154- or 162-game) seasons in modern MLB history (1901-present), with only the 1910 White Sox (.211), the 1908 Brooklyn Superbas (.213) and the 1968 Yankees (.214). In terms of on-base percentage, Oakland is tied for the 10th-worst in modern MLB history, 15 percentage points ahead of the all-time low (also the 1908 Superbas, at .266).

The A’s were certainly in danger of setting the all-time low deep into this season, with the team batting average was .211 entering the All-Star break. A second-half  “surge” — they are batting .224 since the break — has pulled their average up to where it sits now.

The numbers give the impression that the cavernous Oakland Coliseum has not done the A’s any favors, as they’re currently hitting .210 at their home ballpark for the season.

The precipitous drop in batting average matches up with the league, with the .243 league-wide average currently the fourth-worst in the modern era. Many teams have been willing to sacrifice getting singles and doubles and strikeouts to try and hit home runs, which would be reflected in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

That is why home run rates have surged in recent years — the A’s set a franchise record with 257 homers in 2019. But this year, with only 136 homers on the season, their OPS is a league-worst .628 — almost 80 points below the league average of .706.

And while the A’s won’t top 2017’s 1,491 strikeouts in a single season, 1,371 is currently fourth and could shoot into third (1,381 in 2018) or even second (1,387 in 2012) by the season’s final out on Wednesday.

Fewer hits, fewer homers, more strikeouts. It’s all a recipe for an anemic offense. And it’s led to the second 100-loss season in the team’s Oakland years.

Even at 102 losses, it won’t be enough to set a franchise (117 in 1916) or even Oakland (108 in 1979) record for most in a season. But even in those years, the A’s had higher batting averages than this year’s team — by more than 20 points (.239 in 1979, .242 in 1916).

And while the A’s have scored 3.52 runs per game — only the 11th-worst full season in franchise history and around the same as 1979 (3.54) and far better than 1916 (2.9) — it’s more than a run lower than their 2021 average of 4.59.

That gap is what the A’s will have to try and decrease to put a more competitive team on the field in 2023.

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