OAKLAND — The Year of the Dinger has seen balls flying out of ballparks all over the majors at historic rates, with all kinds of records being set in 2019.
The Oakland Athletics haven’t missed the chance to punch their own ticket to Poundtown.
With Jurickson Profar’s 20th home run on Saturday, the A’s set a franchise record with six players hitting at least 20 long balls in a single season. They’re also on pace to break the club record for most homers in a season, set back in 1996.
The six players are Matt Chapman (32), Matt Olson (29), Marcus Semien (26), Mark Canha (23), Ramon Laureano (21) and Profar (20). There have been six other seasons in which the A’s have had as many as five players reach that mark, first in 1996 and most recently in 2018, but this is the first time they’ve had six. They might not be done, as Khris Davis — who led the team in homers each of the last three years — is sitting at 19 entering Sunday.
Around the majors this season, only the Twins (8) and Astros (6) have at least six hitters with 20-plus homers.
Among those six A’s, only Semien is yet to at least match his career-high (27 in 2016). Profar’s 20th on Saturday tied his personal best, set last year as a member of the Texas Rangers, which is a notable development after he struggled mightily for much of this season. Over his last 25 games, he’s batting .282 with a 1.053 OPS and six long balls, raising his overall OPS to a respectable .723 for the year.
“It’s a new team, you want to get off to a good start, you get off to a little bit of a slow start, you have some issues, and you watch your average down to a certain level,” manager Bob Melvin said. “And I think at some point in time he just said forget about the numbers, let’s just play and compete and try to win games.”
Olson also equaled his career-high on Saturday, despite missing the first month of the season to a broken hamate. He reached 29 taters in 54 fewer games and 199 fewer plate appearances than his totals from 2018.
“I just feel like I’m becoming more aware of my swing,” said Olson. “When something feels off, I feel like I’m addressing it sooner than I have in the past and getting back on track.”
Laureano also missed more than a month to injury, after sitting out all of August with a stress reaction in his right leg. He returned from the injured list on Friday, but then had to leave Saturday’s game early due to cramping in the leg.
“It’s just his right whole leg, kind of fatigue, so he had some cramping and stuff all over the place,” said Melvin. “Hopefully, we don’t think it’s the same thing that was going on [with the stress reaction].”
Melvin maintained his optimism about Laureano’s prognosis before Sunday’s game, but did mention that the center fielder probably won’t play every day just yet. The manager suggested a possible plan of two days on, one day off.
The 32 homers by Chapman equal the most ever by a third baseman in A’s history. Eric Chavez hit 32 in 2001, and he also hit 34 the next year, but several of those came as the designated hitter.
Canha had never hit more than 17 in a season, but also had never received 500 plate appearances in a single summer before. He has a chance to reach that mark this year if he stays in the lineup the rest of the way.
On the team level, the A’s 224 homers are sixth in franchise history, trailing the 1996 squad who blasted 243, led my Mark McGwire, Geronimo Berroa and Terry Steinbach. This year’s crew has 20 games left to hit 20 more long balls and break that team record.
In August, Oakland set a similar club record by having their 10th player reach double-digit homers. The others with 10+ are Stephen Piscotty (13), Chad Pinder (12), and Josh Phegley (11).