It’s true that the Oakland A’s are in last place in the American League West and 12 games behind the first place Houston Astros. Yet we are still only a quarter of the way through the season.
Yes, the A’s defense has been atrocious and they’ve committed more errors than any other team in the league. To say that the bullpen has had issues would be an understatement and they are once again with a key left-hander in closer Sean Doolittle.
I know I’ve written on this topic twice already.
- 2015 Trade Market: Is it too early to talk about the A’s?
- Why the Oakland A’s will pull away from the pack in the 2nd half
I even circle around the subject in the post:
My internal reasoning for writing about this again is that this is an Oakland leaning blog, I am an A’s fan so I’m constantly thinking about different aspects of the team and because each time I’ve come up with different and at least relatively valid reasons that the A’s can still turn this season around. They may even make the playoffs.
I mean there ARE two Wild Cards, which I believe is stupid but if it gets the A’s in this year I’ll be happy. I still won’t like them. I’m kind of against all Wild Cards period but that’s another story for another time.
Just because they are 12 games behind the Astros does not mean a second Wild Card spot is out of reach. The Astros currently have the second best record in Major League Baseball.
So for this installment of “why the A’s can still turn the season around” I’m going to talk about win-loss records around the entire league. I was wondering how bad the A’s record is compared to everyone else and as it turns out over a third of the teams in the league have similar records as the Athletics.
I looked at the A’s number of wins which is at 20 and compared their records with teams that had 23 or fewer wins. Including the A’s there were 13 total. Out of those teams the A’s have played 53 games, the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies have played 52 and the Miami Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers have each played 51 games. The other eight teams with 23 or fewer wins have not played more than 50 games.
So I turned my attention to the rest of the league. Of the other 17 teams in MLB five have played more than 50 games and not one other team has played 53. Not only does that contribute to the differences in winning percentage, the number of games played also means fewer days off. The A’s have had just three off-days and will finally have their fourth on Monday.
The A’s have also been on some long road trips lately. Out of 30 teams in the league only five have played more away games than the Athletics, two of which are in last place in their division. The thing about road trips is that they’re organized differently but once the season ends, each team will have played 81 games at home and 81 away.
Most teams play better in their home park, in front of their home crowd. So the fact that the A’s have played more games than any other team and are in the top 1.5 percent of teams who’ve played the most away games is not to Oakland’s advantage up to this point.
I’ve already acknowledged that the team has played shoddy defense and have had bullpen trouble. Those are definitely the main reasons the A’s are currently 8.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot in the American League, however, playing away from home and having fewer days off than most of the league could also have contributed to their losing record.
Those trends will end up changing in the next three quarters of the season and teams that have played at home a lot early on will be travelling during the dog days of August and September. While the A’s will have more days off and at home for rest during that span.
When those aspects are combined with ones I have already mentioned in my previous posts such as the fact that the team is still a bunch of new guys learning to play cohesively as a team, the fact that they’ve brought in Ron Washington to help with the infield defense and the fact that their luck in one run games (2-15) is bound to change. You already have a recipe for getting more wins later in the season than early on.
Also consider that many, or most actually, of the eight A’s teams that have gone to the postseason under general manager Billy Beane have started slow and sprinted to the finish line. Most were at or under .500 at this point in the season with the major exception of the 2014 A’s team which collapsed in the second half of the season.
Also, there has been a trend among the A’s starting pitchers of late, especially those in the back of the rotation Jesse Hahn, Jesse Chavez and Kendall Graveman. They have each gone seven-plus innings in their last couple starts. This takes the pressure off the bullpen. Even without Doolittle, there are competent hands in which the ball can be placed such as Tyler Clippard and Evan Scribner.
When you add all these different pieces to such the huge puzzle that is the Major League Baseball season, you can see how things can change and change quickly.
In 2012 the A’s were 13 games behind the first place Texas Rangers on June 30th. On September 24th, the 2012 A’s were five games out of first place with just nine games left to play. The A’s won the AL Western Division Title by defeating the Rangers on the final day of the season.
So to all the naysayers, know that the 2015 A’s are starting to put things together. They just took three of four in a series with the New York Yankees who are currently in first place in the AL East and there are still three quarters of the season left to play.
Who’s to say what is going to happen to any team given their record at the quarter mark? The 2012 A’s were 13 games out just prior to the half way point, they are now just 12 games out and it’s only just the beginning of June.
It’s no wonder Billy Beane hasn’t given up. Yes, there is always a chance he’ll make a trade. So far, however, Beane has been adamant about giving the team time before he’ll even think of trading any of the names that have already been thrown around by the baseball community: Scott Kazmir, Stephen Vogt and Ben Zobrist.
Everyone from A’s fans to the haters from across the Bay seems to think that the A’s are done for in 2015. But after all the evidence and possibilities I have presented in this and previous posts, how can they say that?
I know not everyone reads my blog. I know that even if they do they don’t catch every post but I think that I’ve brought forth enough evidence to say that there is still not just a chance, but a very good chance that the A’s will once again surprise everyone and just play well down the stretch.
The turnaround could very well be in it’s earliest stages even right now. So don’t count the A’s out yet. I am pretty sure I’ve written that same line in my other posts on this subject but it’s true …. this is baseball.
It’s fickle, unpredictable and sometimes just plain crazy. The A’s most definitely have a chance to snag a Wild Card spot. Anything can happen. Isn’t that part of the beauty of it all??