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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Surging A’s defy conventional wisdom

September arrives Saturday, and the A’s remain solidly in contention.

No one saw this coming, including the men paid to watch opposing teams and gauge their abilities.

“Come on, no one in their right mind would have said the A’s would do this,” one big-league scout said before the A’s 8-4 win over the Indians.
...
The A’s have won five in a row and 11 of 14, they are 15 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2006 season, and they are on pace to win 90 games - when most figured a good year for Oakland would be around the .500 mark.

Texas and Baltimore both lost: the A’s are alone in the top wild-card spot, just 4.5 behind the Rangers for the division lead.
(if you’d bet FLNRSA in March that the A’s would be playing meaningful games FOR THEM in September, you would be the proud owner of all of my money)

Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 29, 2012 at 11:28 PM | 47 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics

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   1. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 30, 2012 at 07:54 AM (#4222031)
I admittedly checked out during most of the 2002 season, so fellow Primates assist me here. How much does this incarnation of the A's feel like that 2002 squad? Obviously they haven't reeled off an historical winning streak, but there seem to be some similarities, from neither being expected to contend, to both almost inexplicably piling up the wins deep into the season.
   2. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 08:08 AM (#4222033)
I admittedly checked out during most of the 2002 season, so fellow Primates assist me here. How much does this incarnation of the A's feel like that 2002 squad?

Doesn't feel like it at all. That 2002 team was a great team and had already established themselves and they were loaded with stars. This team reminds me more of the 1980 A's.
   3. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 30, 2012 at 08:37 AM (#4222046)
Shooty, it's almost like you're saying the excellent documentary "Moneyball" is inaccurate in its depiction of a team overwhelmed by despondency at the 90-loss season that will surely follow the departure of its only three half-decent players.
   4. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 08:47 AM (#4222055)
Shooty, it's almost like you're saying the excellent documentary "Moneyball" is inaccurate in its depiction of a team overwhelmed by despondency at the 90-loss season that will surely follow the departure of its only three half-decent players.

I would never imply such a thing!
   5. AROM Posted: August 30, 2012 at 08:57 AM (#4222070)
They look like a team of destiny!
   6. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:03 AM (#4222078)
They look like a team of destiny!

You go back into the depths of hell where you belong!
   7. Danny Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:13 AM (#4222086)
I wasn't around for 1980, but this reminds me most of 2005. Not a perfect parallel, for sure, but it had the trading away of two of their top SP for prospects, a slow start, 10 games out on June 1, and roaring back through the league in June-Aug with a surprisingly effective young staff.

Hope it doesn't end that way.
   8. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:18 AM (#4222099)
2005 is a good shout. Ray Ratto predicted that team would lose 100 games and Athletics Nation had a lot of fun with that. Ray Ratto! Is he ever right?
   9. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4222117)
2005 is the vibe I get too.
   10. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4222125)
I mentioned the 1980 team as they also came out of nowhere on the emergence of Murphy, Rickey and Armas and the pitching of a bunch of guys no one had heard of. Cespedes, Reddick and Carter seem like a good proxy for the young hitters and, of course, the A's staff is built on unknowns. You guys are making me feel old now!
   11. BDC Posted: August 30, 2012 at 09:53 AM (#4222154)
You guys are making me feel old now!

Hell, I was going to say they remind me of the 1947 A's. Chris Carter, Ferris Fain. They even alliterate!
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 30, 2012 at 10:06 AM (#4222177)
Peter Brand is a ####### genius.
   13. villageidiom Posted: August 30, 2012 at 10:10 AM (#4222186)
Peter Brand is a ####### genius.
Nah, Art Howe deserves all the credit.
   14. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 30, 2012 at 10:28 AM (#4222216)
Remember when Beane had the gall to punt on this season, just to help improve the As chances of moving to San Jose?
   15. McCoy Posted: August 30, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4222225)
Billy Beane never should have bought that land.
   16. Crosseyed and Painless Posted: August 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4222253)
I keep on waiting for the Tigers to have a winning streak and the O's and A's to fall back to earth. It's almost September.
   17. dr. scott Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:19 AM (#4222302)
its hard to compare with any of the early 2000 A's as even though nearly every year they lost big stars, they were really competetive in the previous year, and always had a story about how the new pitchers would contribute. The A's were not very competetive last year or the previous 4 years and lost many of thier best players, and unless I missed it there were no major stories about the likely immediate contribution of the new players. I personally thought they had an outside chance at the wild card at the beginning of the year, but looking back I have no clue why I thought that... it must have been the prospect of Manymania! Thank god that did not work out!
   18. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 30, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4222313)
Unfortunately I agree with 2005. We're going to collapse. Crap.

But just for fun, I noticed that BB-Pro has the A's as a 59% chance at the postseason, putting them in the Top 5 for the first time this year.
   19. Squash Posted: August 30, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4222404)
It's almost a carbon copy of 2005, with trading a couple of good established starters in the offseason, then the late summer success with a bunch of players no one's ever heard of.

The last month is going to be interesting, as eyeballing the schedule it looks reasonably tough. Everybody's in the AL East or AL West probably does though with all the divisional games and that the two divisions are playing each other down the stretch. Ah to be in the Central.
   20. Srul Itza Posted: August 30, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4222524)
They look like a team of destiny!


Every team is a team of destiny.

Sometimes their destiny is to lose.
   21. Danny Posted: August 30, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4222544)
The A's have had a ridiculously unbalanced lineup this year. They have 13 guys with 150+ PA, and none of them have a wRC+ (Fangraphs' improvement of OPS+) between 82 (Inge) and 109 (Crisp). They're just getting nothing out of C, 2B, 3B, or SS (1B was pretty bad before Moss and Carter came up).

The end result is the same as usual--a below average offense--but they usually get there through a lineup full of mediocrity. I think the boom and bust method is more fun to watch.
   22. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4222559)
4-1 A's. 3 run double for Kottaras.
   23. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4222562)
6-1 A's. Pennington with a 2 run shot.
   24. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 30, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4222563)
I really hope that--except for the AL East, of course--all the races stay this good. I remember this time last year we were talking about how dull the pennant race seemed to be and it turned out to be awesome. I'm worried all this talk of tight races will get us nothing but a bunch of 5-games leads by September 20th.
   25. McCoy Posted: August 30, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4222570)
Sometimes their destiny is to lose.

Sometimes? I wish it could be sometimes.
   26. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4222593)
8-2 A's. Reddick with a 2 run shot. Baltimore winning 2-1.

edit: 4-1 Baltimore. Stupid Orioles.
   27. Belfry Bob Posted: August 30, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4222656)
After finally going to an O's game in August last night to watch them lay an egg, I came home and to my horror saw that ESPN article saying the O's might be in it to win it.

Nice to see the same thing has happened to the A's. :)
   28. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4222677)
10-3 A's, 5-1 O's. The slippers still fit, for another day...
   29. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 30, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4222698)
GODDAMMIT SCRIBNER STOP MAKING THIS INTERESTING GODDAMMIT
   30. DKDC Posted: August 30, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4222706)
The A's have won, what, 30 or 40 in a row at this point?

Will they ever lose again?
   31. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 02:29 PM (#4222715)
Will they ever lose again?

Just #6 in a row (if they hold on today). Wins against the Indians should only count for half a win, maybe.
   32. DKDC Posted: August 30, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4222737)
Well, I'm still convinced the Orioles collapse is coming any day now.

Of course, they'll hold on for a win today and then sweep the Yankees this weekend to tie for the AL East lead to make the eventual collapse even more EPIC.
   33. boteman Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:08 PM (#4222788)
Well, I'm still convinced the Orioles collapse is coming any day now.

Perhaps even sooner? Was 5-1 top 9th, now 5-3 top 9th.

Or is that old Oriole Magic coming back to Charm City???
   34. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4222795)
Perhaps even sooner? Was 5-1 top 9th, now 5-3 top 9th.

And 11-7 now A's but the Indians have the bases loaded. Have I pulled off the rare double jinx?
   35. escabeche Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4222812)
O's hold on to win it, with a lineup featuring six straight hitters with BA at most .231. Britton strikes out 10, walks none. I think we just gave up those runs in the ninth in order to keep our Pythag W/L down.
   36. Al Kaline Trio Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4222816)
Now that it's 11-7 the A's have to use their good relievers for the 8th and 9th. Didn't use Balfour yesterday though. Hopefully the Adrian-less Red Sox will have a bad series in Oakland.
   37. Al Kaline Trio Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4222821)
Miller time in the 8th
   38. DKDC Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:31 PM (#4222828)
By my count, 21 swinging strikes for Britton today. And now he's been optioned to Norfolk for Randy Wolf.

Sometimes I think the Orioles front office is like that button in Lost where if they don't do a transaction every 24 hours the world ends or something.
   39. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4222855)
*exhales*
That game was MUCH too interesting.

Josh Donaldson, since taking over 3b for the injured Inge: 21 for 60, 6 doubles and 3 HR.
   40. Danny Posted: August 30, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4222858)
Jim Miller is a hero.
   41. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: August 30, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4222991)
The A's were not very competetive last year or the previous 4 years and lost many of thier best players, and unless I missed it there were no major stories about the likely immediate contribution of the new players.

Yes. This team is tough to compare to past teams because, and Danny covered this in [21], the majority of their everyday players are terrrible. Cespedes, Reddick, the Smith/Gomes platoon, and the second half emergence of Crisp and the 1B platoon have truly carried a sub-par offense. If they can keep the bullpen on an even keel I really do see Oakland making this race very exciting down the stretch.

And, of course, I am also still waiting for the inevitable Orioles June swoon/July collapse. Still.
   42. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: August 30, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4223041)
Crisp has been fantastic over the past three months. He started the season hitting .158/.213/.175 in his first 57 games. Since then, he's hit .303/.361/.516 with 22 steals in 64 games.
   43. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: August 30, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4223048)
The middle relief has not been very effective the last 2 games. I hope Young is able to figure out what is going on because if it stays the way it is, Doolittle Balfour and Cook will be done if they make the playoffs.
   44. McCoy Posted: August 30, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4223055)
And the Orioles keep on winning as well!
   45. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 30, 2012 at 07:07 PM (#4223056)
The middle relief has not been very effective the last 2 games. I hope Young is able to figure out what is going on because if it stays the way it is, Doolittle Balfour and Cook will be done if they make the playoffs.

Just a bad couple of games, is what I'm thinking.
The A's entire roster of pitchers has only about 120 innings of below-average ERA+ for the entire season.
I have a great deal of faith in Young at this point.
   46. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 30, 2012 at 07:37 PM (#4223075)
Can we get Doolittle, Balfour, Putz in the same bullpen? Along with Zach "Putnam on base" Putnam, Will "Ohmanthatwasabadpitch" Ohman, Fernando "Abad pitcher" Abad, and Pedro "Always getting" Beato? That would be a good bullpen. The A's also have Evan Scribner, and could add the other wussiest-named pitcher, Everett Teaford.
   47. boteman Posted: August 30, 2012 at 08:38 PM (#4223101)
Call me madcap, but I miss Jemile Weeks' dreads. That is all.

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