Monday, September 10, 2012


Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a huge A's fan and I could not be more excited to see them having such a great season. However I got to thinking about what makes the A's so good this year. Today on Metsblog, Matt Cerrone wrote a great post that basically said that Mets fans spend a lot of time focusing on minutiae that might make the team play better when the simpler answer is, we just need better players. This is a simple but also shocking truth. As a Mets fan I spend all season thinking up scenarios in which Andres Torres skill set is going to lead to a winning season when in all likelihood he is just going to continue to be himself and give us the same results he always has. Despite all the what-ifs and just maybe's of the preseason, this Mets team has produced exactly the kind of season logic dictated it would.

The thing that got me thinking was, sometimes this doesn't happen. The Oakland A's are currently second in their division and first in the AL wildcard race. Before the season all statistics and logic would indicate they would be about as good as the Mets. They spent the off season trading away two top pitchers, over spending on fringe Cuban prospects and generally acting like a time that planned to contend in 2015, maybe. Yet here we stand, 19 games above .500. So what's the trick?

Any stat head would be able to guess the solution, the reason for the A's success is the most elusive stat of all: luck. Basically the A's pitchers are pitching a lot better than they should be. The A's have a team ERA of 3.42, 3rd best in baseball but an xFIP of 4.19 good for 21st baseball. They have a BABIP of .278, second lowest in baseball. How about their HR/FB ratio? I am sure you can guess at this point, it is the lowest in baseball at a measly 8.6%.  Balls that should fall for hits are being caught, home runs are turning into pop flies.

So the question is, what will happen to the A's? All that really depends on how long their luck lasts. Eventually the shooter will seven out and the streak will come to and end. As all things must, these stats will regress to the mean and that team ERA will rise. It could happen tomorrow or next year. As a fan I am hoping it lasts until November.

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