Is This Finally the A’s’ Year?
While the A’s don’t currently have the best record in baseball, they probably have the best team, at least based on Bill James’ Pythagorean theorum for team quality/ability. Not only is the A’s runs scored to runs allowed differential the biggest in baseball by a healthy margin, but also since the A’s play one of the best pitchers’ parks in baseball and have allowed the 3rd fewest runs of any team in baseball, you have to think this team is for real and poised to run away with the American League West. It seems like whenever I look at the box scores, the A’s are beating somebody’s brains out 9-1 or 10-4, usually the sign of a great team.
The A’s only real challenge for best team in baseball under the P theorum is the Tigers, who have surprisingly allowed even fewer runs to score than the A’s so far this season.
There is another formula for winning games, which might now be called the San Francisco method. The Giants win on pitching, both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. The Giants since 2009, at least when they’re going good, have won more than their share of the close games based on starting and relief pitching and scoring just enough runs.
The A’s have put up a lot of good teams in the last 15 seasons, but have underperformed in the post-season, while the Giants have clearly over-performed, at least in 201o and 2012. The Giants’ teams from 1997 through about 2004 won more games in the regular season than the current model, but fizzled in the post-season.
I think most of this is just luck. If a good team gets hot at the right time, it can win it all. Since all of the teams that make the post-season are good teams, it usually comes down to who gets hot at the right time. The only factor that I’ve noticed in helping teams win in the post-season (and I will state here that I haven’t done any research on the matter at all) is experience. Teams that have been to the post-season before usually do better than those that haven’t, but, of course, not always.
Anyway, this could finally (or at least since 1989) be the A’s year. Right now they look to have the best team in baseball, and being the best at least helps a little bit when it comes to the short series of the post-season, particularly since the A’s made the post-season in both 2012 and 2013.
That said, remember the 1960 Yankees-Pirates series. Anything can happen in a short series.