OK, call it click bait. But the purpose of open forum is to stimulate discussion, and in Oakland right now, I’m sure many are the fans making the very arguments listed below. Prove them wrong.
In baseball and football, it is well known that the team that often wins the championship isn’t necessarily the best team, but the team that gets hot (and a little lucky) at the right time.
I am going to present the lawyer’s brief on behalf of the Oakland A’s as that team going into the playoffs, no doubt, the case they are making in Oakland right now. I do so fully expecting, ney hoping, for a thorough, even devastating, cross examination. Have at it.
Yes, they just lost a crucial series to the other Cinderella, the Tampa Bay Rays, and are now 4.5 games behind the Astros. So, for the sake of argument, let’s assume they get into the playoffs as the Wild Card winning team, admittedly a 50-50 proposition. Is there reason to think they are good enough to become World Champions? Other Wild Card teams have done it.
This is the brief for the A’s. (Stats before Sunday games from Fangraphs) I will use second half stats because
- They are readily available
- They are recent while also allowing for a decent sample size.
- As a young team it is arguable that the first two months of the A’s season is not as representative, as they were still growing as a team, and have made important acquisitions since then.
Since the All Star break:
Best record 35-17.
Best run differential 85
Highest fWAR 13.3
Highest wRC+ and OPS 120, .801. Next best wRC+ is Tampa Bay 109. Astros 106
Second in home runs at 77, just two behind the Yankees.
Best defensive WAR 13.0
Best overall ERA 3.32, Astros 3rd at 3.48
Best relief ERA 2.82, Astros 2nd at 3.24
Fifth in starter ERA 3.74, Astros 3rd at 3.62
The A’s have a slew of under-appreciated over-achievers, for example, Matt Chapman, whose 6.7 fWAR is 6th in the American League, or Jed Lowrie, 9th just ahead of Jose Altuve with a 4.7 fWAR. Khris Davis leads the league in home runs, and, of course, Blake Treinen, the leading thoroughbred in a whole stable of fine relievers, who sports 37 saves and a 0.85 ERA.
In 52 games since the All Star break, the A’s have been the best team in baseball by most measures. Does it translate into the playoffs? Why of why not?