Coco Crisp's Injury Hurts Oakland A's the Worst

Yeah, Oakland has some current injury problems. But none hurt as bad as their current centerfielder.

What started out as a promising week for the Oakland A's rapidly deteriorated into a nightmare. After taking two of three in New York against the Yankees, the A's suffered a four game sweep in Cleveland that included Adam Rosales' now infamous home run that wasn't.

Though the A's 179 runs still leads all of baseball, the club has started to slip of late in the run production category. In falling to .500 on the year, Oakland averaged just 2.4 runs per game this past week. That's not entirely unanticipated, as the offense outperformed all but the most wildly optimistic expectations in the first month and some regression to the mean was to be expected.

That said, the starting pitching got much better against New York and in two of the four games in Cleveland. The rotation might be enjoying a progression to the mean after its shaky start.

But ultimately, it's tough to figure out exactly where the A's are headed both at the plate and on the mound for one simple reason. Oakland is dealing with a serious injury bug (think original Men in Black bad guy bug in a human suit here, not your run of the mill bug).

Hydra Monster

Every time the A's take a player off of the disabled list, it seems like several more jump on. In case you've lost track, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Chris Young and Brett Anderson are all on the DL. And those are just the big names.

It's easy to point out that none of those guys (save Crisp) have been significant contributors to the A's success this season. Reddick has an OPS of .516 for the year. Young is batting .172. Anderson's ERA is 6.21.

But injuries may have had a lot to do with the early struggles of those guys. The wrist injury that landed Reddick on the DL dates back to April 7. After a month of playing through it, he finally was given his current DL stint.

Anderson pitched through a sprained ankle several times before the A's decided to give him some time to heal. Jarrod Parker is dealing with a neck injury that he continues to try to pitch through that has probably contributed to his awful 7.34 ERA.

If a stint on the DL gets these guys healthy, their production may creep back up to normal levels even as the overachievers responsible for the great start come back to earth. Should that happen, it would certainly mitigate the current decline in production from the lineup.

Missing Coco

The one player whose injury has hurt the A's lineup more than any other is the one guy who was completely healthy and playing great when he went down with a hamstring injury in the marathon 19 inning contest with the Angels. Crisp was getting on base at a .388 clip and slugging .556 from the leadoff spot. He was getting on early and often and generating runs better than any other player on the team. Even after missing two weeks, he still has scored more runs (24) than any other Athletic, and has the best WAR (1.5) on the team.

In his absence, Oakland's leadoff hitters have still done a great job, with an OBP of .429 from that spot and scoring 16.1 percent of the team's runs to the 16.2 percent scored by Crisp when he got hurt. But moving those productive bats to the top of the order has left Oakland with almost no production at the bottom of the lineup. Depth, or rather an injury induced lack thereof, is showing.

The A's need to weather this injury storm particularly during an upcoming week with the Mariners and Rangers on the docket. Fortunately for them, they've owned in division games so far. Unfortunately, that dominance has come at the expense of the lowly Astros and Angels. This week will be their first chance to test themselves against division leading Texas and break a 2-2 early season series tie with Seattle.