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Friday, July 27, 2018

The A’s keep racking up victories. Here are 10 reasons why this team is for real

So, how many of these claims are we likely to concur with?

ARLINGTON, Texas — This is no longer just a mirage. It’s not just a hot streak. They’re not just getting lucky. These A’s are for real.

Now at 60-43 after Khris Davis continued to terrorize the Rangers in yet another comeback victory Wednesday night, the A’s would qualify for the best record in the National League right now.

They reside in the much tougher American League, still third place in their own division, but the Seattle Mariners can hear the elephant-sized footsteps coming as the A’s are just 1 1/2 games behind them for the second wild card spot.

QLE Posted: July 27, 2018 at 08:23 PM | 55 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics

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   1. puck Posted: July 27, 2018 at 09:09 PM (#5717203)
One of the best offenses in baseball
The A’s are top-five in most offensive categories...The A’s have smacked 95 home runs and scored 315 runs on the road, both by far and away the most of any team in baseball.

In a sport where Nolan Arenado exists, Matt Chapman is the best defensive third baseman in baseball.


Well, they're in Colorado this weekend, so they get a chance to test/show off both these attributes.
   2. puck Posted: July 27, 2018 at 10:26 PM (#5717229)
Huh, Chapman and Arenado went to the same high school.
   3. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: July 27, 2018 at 10:54 PM (#5717243)
It's been fun watching them this week.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 28, 2018 at 12:00 AM (#5717257)
One run off Kyle Freeland and the Rockies tonight, and that one run required an appearance by Bryan Shaw, world's worst relief pitcher.
   5. TomH Posted: July 28, 2018 at 11:46 AM (#5717327)
Here are a few reason why they are NOT for real:
- they are really only 5th in the AL in runs scored, barely above avg.
- they have no team speed - 23 SB, 18 CS !
- they don't get on base well (OBP .320). Their leader in runs scored doesn't get on base well. Can that work in the playoffs if they get there?
- their rotation isn't very good.
- the bullpen has been amazing. It is unlikely to continue anywehre near that pace
- the A's best bet is to play a WC game, on the road, against Sale or Severino. While they counter with... Sean Manaea?
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: July 28, 2018 at 12:02 PM (#5717330)
They reside in the much tougher American League,


Which has pounded the National League to a dominant 92-111 record in interleague play.
   7. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 28, 2018 at 12:18 PM (#5717334)
The A’s are top-five in most offensive categories...The A’s have smacked 95 home runs and scored 315 runs on the road, both by far and away the most of any team in baseball.


The Rockies' announcers mentioned lat night that the A's are actually on track to set a record for most road home runs (although that may not still be true after they didn't hit any last night).

It's pretty fluky, though - they've hit more than twice as many homers on the road than they have at home. Oakland is a tough hitter's park, but not THAT tough.
   8. puck Posted: July 28, 2018 at 01:03 PM (#5717345)
Brett Anderson is supposed to start. Brett Anderson is still alive!
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: July 28, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5717371)
The Rockies' announcers mentioned lat night that the A's are actually on track to set a record for most road home runs (although that may not still be true after they didn't hit any last night).


According to Pi, the record is 138 by SFG in 2001, currently they are on pace for 136.4
   10. TomH Posted: July 28, 2018 at 03:15 PM (#5717393)
Pretty funny that the NYY could set the MLB team HR mark this year, while they WON'T have the best road HR total by some margin in the same year, as Oakland is well ahead of them in road dingers.
   11. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 28, 2018 at 03:39 PM (#5717406)
Which has pounded the National League to a dominant 92-111 record in interleague play.

The NL is getting fat on the non-competing dregs of the AL. While the top 6 teams in the AL (BOS, NYY, CLE, HOU, SEA, OAK) and NL (PHI, ATL, CHN, MIL, LAN, ARI) have similar interleague records, 46-32 for AL vs 44-31 for NL, when the top 6 in each league play each other, the AL is currently leading 16-9.
   12. mathesond Posted: July 28, 2018 at 03:56 PM (#5717416)
(Edit) Wrong thread
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: July 28, 2018 at 04:47 PM (#5717460)
The NL is getting fat on the non-competing dregs of the AL.


So are the AL's best teams.

There's no real argument that the AL is "much tougher."
   14. TomH Posted: July 28, 2018 at 05:45 PM (#5717483)
really, 13? Is a FOURTEEN YEAR WINNING STREAK not a real argument? Most years it wasn't even close. Did the NL get a whole lot stronger in 2018, or maybe it's a blip? I go with blip.
   15. GGIAS (aka Poster Nutbag) Posted: July 28, 2018 at 06:04 PM (#5717486)
The A’s are 61-44

They would be in first place in every division in the NL, and also the AL Central. Aside from NYY, BOS and HOU, there is NO team that is clearly better.

5th best W-L record in all of MLB right now. Only 1 game behind Sea for 4th.

But no. They’re not for real. And the AL isn’t tougher.

Some of y’all are funny.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: July 28, 2018 at 06:30 PM (#5717492)
Which has pounded the National League to a dominant 92-111 record in interleague play.

The main issue is that the AL Central sucks. They are 24-47 vs the NL (Central). But they are also 45-60 vs the ALE and 46-91 vs the ALW. Even the Indians haven't measured up well so far: 6-8 vs ALE, 12-17 vs ALW, 9-8 vs NLC (where they get to play the Reds a bit more).

AL East is 60-59 vs ALW with Bos and NY dominating. They are 38-37 vs NLE with the Red Sox 7-1. AL West is 30-27 vs NLW with the A's leading the way at 11-5. NLE is 55-53 vs NLC and 59-70 vs NLW. NLC is 54-52 vs NLW.

Based on all that, the ALC stinks, really stinks, and the other 5 divisions are pretty evenly matched overall. The samples are still small enough that who's still got games against whom can matter but it's been tracking this way for the last couple of months or so after a big spread of ALC vs NLC games early in the year. The AL of course does have the three monster teams that are probably better than anybody in the NL while the NL lacks the absolutely atrocious teams.

Is a FOURTEEN YEAR WINNING STREAK not a real argument?

Not really no. The last 2-3 seasons sure but how the AL did 14 years ago or even 5 years ago is pretty immaterial. Players move leagues, guys retire, new guys enter and the talent spread of today has little connection to the talent spread of yesteryear. So I agree that you don't draw conclusions on one year of data but there's no reason to look back fourteen years. That it's fourteen straight years raises the possibility that there is some systemic factor at play (mainly the Yankees payroll until at least the Dodgers started spending like crazy) but even if we identify that, we'd still want some measure of whether that factor is in play this season.

   17. SoSH U at work Posted: July 28, 2018 at 06:32 PM (#5717493)
really, 13? Is a FOURTEEN YEAR WINNING not a real argument? Most years it wasn't even close. Did the NL get a whole lot stronger in 2018, or maybe it's a blip? I go with blip.


I don't think the results of 14, 10, 7 or even 4 years ago have much relevance to the relative strengths of the leagues today, which is what really matters.

The NL leads interleague play this year by 19 wins. Over the past two seasons, the NL has one fewer win than the AL in interleague play. It seems to me that the gap is closing, which is a long time coming, given the AL has no structural advantage over the NL (in fact, it probably has a slight structural disadvantage).

Regardless, when the NL is up 19 games in IL THIS YEAR, it's a tough case to make that the 2019 AL is "much stronger."


They’re not for real. And the AL isn’t tougher.



The AL is more top heavy. The NL is more balanced. And I have commented not on the A's authenticity. They seem like a good club to me.
   18. GGIAS (aka Poster Nutbag) Posted: July 28, 2018 at 06:44 PM (#5717495)
#17 - It was a general statement about multiple comments in the thread. Not just yours specifically. I had no intention of implying that you, specifically, had commented on their authenticity.
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: July 28, 2018 at 07:17 PM (#5717501)
Did the NL get a whole lot stronger in 2018, or maybe it's a blip?


Looking at this question, yes. There is reason to think the NL got a log stronger in 2018.

For the past few seasons, two of the league's larger market franchises have been in various stages of teardown. They have emerged from that process, and are competitive again. The same, to a lesser extent, exists with Cincinnati, though that might simply be a case of emerging from having Bryan Price as a manager. The only NL team that entered the 2019 campaign in full teardown mode was Miami, and there's not a whole lot of difference between the Marlins when they're spendy and when they've got the Everything Must Go sign hanging outside the Fish Tank.

In contrast, two of the AL Central clubs are entering into such a phase (KC and Det), another is still there, and two other dreadful clubs are joining the fray.

So yes, the NL looks like it's in a much stronger position relative to the Junior Circuit than it's been in a while. It's about damn time.



#17 - It was a general statement about multiple comments in the thread. Not just yours specifically. I had no intention of implying that you, specifically, had commented on their authenticity.


I know. I was just noting that my comments had nothing to do with the A's relative strength.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: July 29, 2018 at 06:45 PM (#5717755)
While the top 6 teams in the AL (BOS, NYY, CLE, HOU, SEA, OAK) and NL (PHI, ATL, CHN, MIL, LAN, ARI) have similar interleague records, 46-32 for AL vs 44-31 for NL, when the top 6 in each league play each other, the AL is currently leading 16-9.


Not anymore. The Top 6 teams in the NL are now 16-14 when they play the Top 6 teams in the AL.

   21. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 29, 2018 at 06:53 PM (#5717758)
The Top 6 teams in the NL are now 16-14 when they play the Top 6 teams in the AL.


Is that because the Rockies have snuck into the Top 6? The Rox are 9-2 against Top 6 AL teams.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: July 29, 2018 at 06:54 PM (#5717760)
Is that because the Rockies have snuck into the Top 6? The Rox are 9-2 against Top 6 AL teams.


Yeah, they replaced the 2-4 Braves.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: July 29, 2018 at 07:02 PM (#5717763)
I've argued against interleague play as a barometer for the quality of the leagues, just because it has switched a bit(and the season isn't over.... there are still 95 interleague games remaining) doesn't mean I'm going to join the argument that it's equaled out. A few good points have been made of course, the NL is much more balanced than the AL is pretty clear to anyone looking at the teams, but that still doesn't accurately reflect the quality of the leagues. I mean if the AL is top heavy, while the overall league quality is slight advantage to the NL, ultimately that would still argue that the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros are clearly superior to the best in the NL.

I get all of those arguments, but not sure I fully agree with them. I mean there are just too many teams underperforming to expectations in both leagues, including the elite teams, that it's hard to really argue their quality in a vacuum.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: July 29, 2018 at 07:09 PM (#5717766)
I mean if the AL is top heavy, while the overall league quality is slight advantage to the NL, ultimately that would still argue that the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros are clearly superior to the best in the NL.


I think it's perfectly reasonable to conclude that the Top 3 in the AL are the class of baseball. But there simply isn't any reason to believe that the AL is much stronger this season (measuring the league as a whole, and as I pointed out in 19, logical explanations for the shift this year). Interleague play isn't the be-all, end-all of the conversation, but it also can't be ignored (the AL was beating up on the NL in IL for years when it was the stronger league).

Moreover, since the AL has no structural advantage over the NL (as I said earlier, if anything there might be a slight edge for the NL in that regard), it's inevitable that eventually the superiority the AL has maintained the past decade and a half is going to come to an end.

   25. cardsfanboy Posted: July 29, 2018 at 07:27 PM (#5717771)
Moreover, since the AL has no structural advantage over the NL (


And I've always disagreed with that, at least as far as a short series, the DH advantage is a real thing to me. Over a course of a season it probably wouldn't matter, but over a short 3 game series, I do think it factors into it...

Of course there is a greater than normal homefield advantage for interleague play than regular play, but that is across both leagues(.527 vs .537)..
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: July 29, 2018 at 07:32 PM (#5717772)
Yes, I know you’ve always contended it. You’ve never offered a coherent explanation for that, but you’ve been very consistent in contending it.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: July 29, 2018 at 07:44 PM (#5717774)
Yes, I know you’ve always contended it. You’ve never offered a coherent explanation for that, but you’ve been very consistent in contending it.


Teams have a batter dedicated to the role of batting in the AL, some of those batters can pass themselves off as position players, some are just batters, either way it makes their pinch hitter spot much stronger than the NL where your bench players are designed to be utility guys. The cost is the same, for the roster spots, but in a short series it's easier to manipulate the roster spots to take advantage of the batter first position.

Poor defense players don't really hurt the team as much in a short series as they do over the course of a season, so putting a David Ortiz at first base for a three game series is not nearly as likely to be devastating to the team as playing him at first base for 162 games in the season. Sure bad luck happens and it shows up once in a while, but often enough that short series the advantage of the better bat 4 times a game is better than the one potential damaging play over 3 games defensively.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: July 29, 2018 at 07:45 PM (#5717775)
Of course I'm a huge, huge fan that that the second game of every interleague series should be played with the visitor rules.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: July 29, 2018 at 08:17 PM (#5717778)
Teams have a batter dedicated to the role of batting in the AL, some of those batters can pass themselves off as position players, some are just batters, either way it makes their pinch hitter spot much stronger than the NL where your bench players are designed to be utility guys. The cost is the same, for the roster spots, but in a short series it's easier to manipulate the roster spots to take advantage of the batter first position.


If you have a club with a strong DH, you're going to take a hit when you move to a game without one (either offensively, defensively or both). It may not be in exact equal measure, but it isn't shaded one way or another. Whether that's over 7 games or 162 doesn't matter. The team built to take advantage of the extra slot in the batting order will suffer a larger hit when the series shifts to the NL park than one who just slots any old extra position player in there.

Poor defense players don't really hurt the team as much in a short series as they do over the course of a season, so putting a David Ortiz at first base for a three game series is not nearly as likely to be devastating to the team as playing him at first base for 162 games in the season.


You have nothing to back that up. And it doesn't hold up to reason. In a short series, having an inferior defensive player will cost you 7/162 runs/outs/wins what he would cost you if forced to play there over the course of the regular season. how that percentage plays out is unknown, but there's absolutely no argument that it "doesn't really hurt."
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: July 29, 2018 at 08:43 PM (#5717781)

If you have a club with a strong DH, you're going to take a hit when you move to a game without one (either offensively, defensively or both). It may not be in exact equal measure, but it isn't shaded one way or another. Whether that's over 7 games or 162 doesn't matter. The team built to take advantage of the extra slot in the batting order will suffer a larger hit when the series shifts to the NL park than one who just slots any old extra position player in there.


You get the selective advantage of playing your real major league hitter in a pinch hitting role.

I get you don't agree with it, but to me it seems pretty obvious, having a real major league ready bat on the bench for that one spot matters, the difference in quality of hitting between an al pitcher and an nl pitcher isn't that great, while the difference between a real dh and a utility guy is pretty substantial.

I'm a fan of the Cardinals using Jose Martinez to play first base, he's a poor defensive first baseman, and a DH waiting to happen, at the same time in any specific game, the damage he does defensively is often clearly out ranked by the damage he does offensively.... but sometimes that isn't the case, but that sometimes is more rarer than the advantage.
   31. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: July 29, 2018 at 08:55 PM (#5717785)
You get the selective advantage of playing your real major league hitter in a pinch hitting role.

You mean: You get the real disadvantage of devoting a large chunk of your payroll to an elite hitter, who now only gets 1 PA instead of 5.

You are just focusing on the benefit of having that extra bat, without considering the cost. There is no question that AL teams would be better off in interleague games, if the resources they dedicate to their DH, were dedicated to other roster spots.
   32. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: July 29, 2018 at 10:38 PM (#5717807)
And I've always disagreed with that, at least as far as a short series, the DH advantage is a real thing to me. Over a course of a season it probably wouldn't matter, but over a short 3 game series, I do think it factors into it...

Of course there is a greater than normal homefield advantage for interleague play than regular play, but that is across both leagues(.527 vs .537)..


Checking the last three completed seasons, looking at observed HFA in NL-only games as compared to the difference between NL home and road records in interleague play:

2017: NL went 77-73 at home in IL, 63-87 on the road (difference of .093). In NL-only games, it was .546 at home, .454 on the road (.091). No appreciable difference.
2016: 67-83 in home IL games, 68-82 on the road (better on the road by .007). NL-only, .526 at home, .474 on the road (.052). Bigger HFA in NL-only games.
2015: 71-79 IL home, 62-88 IL road (.060 difference). NL-only, .549 home, .451 road (.099). Bigger HFA in NL-only games.

Over a three-season sample, the difference between home and road for NL teams is .049 in interleague play, compared to .080 in NL-only play. (I have the numbers from '06 to '08 in an old spreadsheet, and they are similar.)

So if there's a disadvantage to NL teams in playing with the DH, it hasn't shown up over the last three seasons.
   33. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 30, 2018 at 12:04 AM (#5717825)
Regardless, when the NL is up 19 games in IL THIS YEAR, it's a tough case to make that the 2019 AL is "much stronger."

First time, typo.

The only NL team that entered the 2019 campaign in full teardown mode was Miami,

Second time though?
   34. Chicago Joe Posted: July 30, 2018 at 12:09 AM (#5717826)
Man, I though the reasons were two fists.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: July 30, 2018 at 01:28 AM (#5717832)
Second time though?


I was wondering if someone would catch that. I was doing work yesterday from home on my company's 2019 calendar, which is the only explanation I can offer. By the time I noticed it, it was too late to edit.

   36. Walt Davis Posted: July 30, 2018 at 03:38 AM (#5717836)
There are of course no "good" measures of league difference. Baseball is a game of small differences and you'd need very large sample sizes. But interleague play is almost certainly the best indicator that we have, really the only direct measure. The next best measures are probably record against common opponents and payroll. After that you probably move into more backward-looking measures like how player who have switched leagues recently performed and how do the players project (although these are still based on mainly intra-league play and have the same sort of small sample problems).

As to "stronger at the top" ... again we have very little actual data to go on. The Yanks and Red Sox have beat up on the ALC even more than the Cubs and Brewers have; on the other hand, the Pirates and Reds are a combined 22-6. NYY And Bos have also walloped the ALW so far while the Dodgers are just 6-4 vs ALW. However the Cubs and Brewers are 30-16 vs the NLE which is close enough to the NYY/Bos 17-8 ... the Dodgers again lagging behind at a solid 18-11.

I've sliced it a few ways and I just come back to ALC sucks, everybody else is about even. If you also toss out the O's, the AL probably pulls ahead but now we're comparing the top 9 (or maybe 9 of the top 10) AL teams to the average NL team.

Of course the more you drill down, the wackier things get. The Yanks are just 9-7 vs Bal and KC (haven't played CHW yet) while Bos is 16-5 and Hou a nutty 15-1 against those 3 teams. That's a 114-41 run differential for Houston. Take those away and Houston is 52-39 (571) with a 106-run differential and look maybe a bit better than the Cubs. Still, hard to deny that the Red Sox and Yanks have pretty much laid waste across everybody they've played. Hopefully one of them gets knocked out in the 1-game play-in. :-) Note, they'd play each other in the next round anyway, no classic ALCS match-up. (unless Hou passes both of them.)
   37. cardsfanboy Posted: July 30, 2018 at 05:39 AM (#5717844)
ecking the last three completed seasons, looking at observed HFA in NL-only games as compared to the difference between NL home and road records in interleague play:

2017: NL went 77-73 at home in IL, 63-87 on the road (difference of .093). In NL-only games, it was .546 at home, .454 on the road (.091). No appreciable difference.
2016: 67-83 in home IL games, 68-82 on the road (better on the road by .007). NL-only, .526 at home, .474 on the road (.052). Bigger HFA in NL-only games.
2015: 71-79 IL home, 62-88 IL road (.060 difference). NL-only, .549 home, .451 road (.099). Bigger HFA in NL-only games.

Over a three-season sample, the difference between home and road for NL teams is .049 in interleague play, compared to .080 in NL-only play. (I have the numbers from '06 to '08 in an old spreadsheet, and they are similar.)

So if there's a disadvantage to NL teams in playing with the DH, it hasn't shown up over the last three seasons.



I'm going by this article, which lists hfa for interleague play as .547 vs .537 (I listed the wrong numbers above going from memory)

   38. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: July 30, 2018 at 08:40 AM (#5717865)
Which has pounded the National League to a dominant 92-111 record in interleague play.


I did not realize this. What is going on? Is this really just a function of the top heavy nature of the AL or something else? Has the NL genuinely surpassed the AL?

Looking at the standings the three teams with the best interleague records are the 7-1 Red Sox (team with best record in baseball has best record in random split), the 12-3 Pirates (OK, they are having a decent year, kinda random) and...the 10-3 Reds??

The Phillies are 4th and they play the Sox at Fenway tonight and tomorrow.
   39. SoSH U at work Posted: July 30, 2018 at 09:43 AM (#5717885)
What is going on? Is this really just a function of the top heavy nature of the AL or something else?


I'd guess the biggest reason is kind of an offshoot of Walt's point - the AL has more teams that are in non-competitive mode (either by preseason design, or have moved into that after a dreadful start. Three of them are in the AL Central). Other than the Marlins, and none of the NL's clubs were in "tank" mode, and the Mets haven't reached the stage the Orioles-Rangers have to be midseason sellers. I think that's the biggest reason why we've seen the change in record *(which is now 92-113 in the NL's favor), in addition to simple inevitability the league's would come back to parity.

   40. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 30, 2018 at 09:51 AM (#5717892)

It's pretty fluky, though - they've hit more than twice as many homers on the road than they have at home. Oakland is a tough hitter's park, but not THAT tough.

Oakland's 1-year park factor this season is 89. That may just be a statistical anomaly (the multi-year PF is 96) or it may be real, but it's one reason why "they are really only 5th in the AL in runs scored" is not necessarily a good reason why they aren't real.
   41. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: July 30, 2018 at 10:02 AM (#5717899)
Of course I'm a huge, huge fan that that the second game of every interleague series should be played with the visitor rules.


This is such an obviously good idea I don't know why it doesn't happen. It would be a lot more interesting.
   42. Jay Seaver Posted: July 30, 2018 at 11:02 AM (#5717924)
You mean: You get the real disadvantage of devoting a large chunk of your payroll to an elite hitter, who now only gets 1 PA instead of 5.

You are just focusing on the benefit of having that extra bat, without considering the cost. There is no question that AL teams would be better off in interleague games, if the resources they dedicate to their DH, were dedicated to other roster spots.

The DH doesn't necessarily get 1 PA instead of 5, though - even David Ortiz, the DH-iest of DHes, would play the field about half the time, with the effect of pushing another major-league hitter to the bench and that guy being the first to show up as a pinch-hitter or as part of a double-switch. Conversely, when the NL team plays in an AL park, their effective DH is a light-hitting fourth-outfielder type. He may not actually be penciled in as designated hitter, instead displacing the team's weakest fielder, but in either case, the NL team is fielding a weaker lineup.

As for the payroll thing, the team builds the team for the rules they play under 90% of the time, aware that there are going to be some times when it's not the most efficient use of the money. It still gives the AL team and advantage in the other 10% of games.
   43. SoSH U at work Posted: July 30, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5717930)
The DH doesn't necessarily get 1 PA instead of 5, though - even David Ortiz, the DH-iest of DHes, would play the field about half the time, with the effect of pushing another major-league hitter to the bench and that guy being the first to show up as a pinch-hitter or as part of a double-switch. Conversely, when the NL team plays in an AL park, their effective DH is a light-hitting fourth-outfielder type. He may not actually be penciled in as designated hitter, instead displacing the team's weakest fielder, but in either case, the NL team is fielding a weaker lineup.


In the 2013 World Series, the Red Sox had a decided edge in the game's played in Boston, since they were able to use their best hitter the full game without any concern for his defensive inadequacies. They were also able to use their solid-hitting first baseman, who also happened to have a nice year with the glove.

When the series moved to St. Louis, they either had to bench their best hitter, which they didn't, or they had to bench their second-best hitter, while also suffering a downgrade defensively. That batter wound up getting one PA in the three games in St. Louee. They were, on paper, a much lesser version of their normal selves under those rules.

If an AL team is built with a really good DH and has strength the other places where you would stick him, then that team is going to suffer a greater loss when the series shifts to the NL. On the other hand, if a club has a replacement level first baseman, they won't suffer as much when they move to the DH-less play, but they're also not getting much of an edge from playing in the extra bat league.

As for the payroll thing, the team builds the team for the rules they play under 90% of the time, aware that there are going to be some times when it's not the most efficient use of the money. It still gives the AL team and advantage in the other 10% of games.


Teams have budgets. They build the best team they can under that budget. The Dodgers don't need a DH, but they spend more than anyone in the game. The Rays have an extra regular to pay, but they still manage to keep their payroll costs at YR-infuriating levels. Having to pay for a DH has no real effect on spending, nor should it.

The DH is not a competitive advantage. It wasn't thought to be so for the first 25 years of its existence, when either the NL was the superior league or the leagues were at parity. It was only offered as an ex post facto explanation for the AL's dominance these past 15 years, a condition that was based entirely on having better players/management in the Junior Circuit.
   44. TomH Posted: July 30, 2018 at 12:20 PM (#5717968)
SoSH made some valid and insightful replies, specifically about Al teams going into tear-down modes, which could be behind some/much of the sudden change in AL-NL interleague records.

However...

1) Let's also recall that either last year or the year before, the NL had an interleague (IL) record that was good about halfway through the year, with accompanying articles about "finally the NL is even (or better); until the 2nd half results came in and the AL crushed.
2) The std dev of wins over 205 IL games in 7. If you go +- 2 std devs, the AL could be either 35 games behind the NL this year, or 7 games ahead.
3) A small piece of the interleague play diff is the fact that the Red Sox have had only 8 IL games to date, while the O's have had 18. Using a weighted average of team wpcts, this has cost the AL about 1 win so far.
4) The notion that "large market" NL teams are suddenly contending may not be a huge factor as much as a mirage; who knows if the Phillies will continue to win 1-run games, or if the Braves' strong contingent of overachievers will continue?
5) Yes, what happened 14 years ago isn't so relevant, but what happened the last few years sure is, when looking at small sample sizes. If you build some simple formula like weighting 2018 IL records times 4, 2017 times 3, 2016 times 2, 2015 times 1, what does the weighted record look like?
I agree that the descriptor "much stronger" is not the best to apply to the assessed AL advantage. More like "probably stronger".
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: July 30, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5717977)
4) The notion that "large market" NL teams are suddenly contending may not be a huge factor as much as a mirage; who knows if the Phillies will continue to win 1-run games, or if the Braves' strong contingent of overachievers will continue?


Sure, but I'm not sure it's that important (though Atlanta's overachievers are more than offset by Washington's underachievers). What's more relevant is that both teams are once again trying to win games this year, and have acted accordingly (including signing a few FAs, most notably Arrieta). That's aided the NL's competitiveness level.
   46. McCoy Posted: July 30, 2018 at 12:48 PM (#5717980)
My view was that back in the day (as early as 6 years ago) the NL historically had at least two teams at the bottom of the payroll by a good deal. For instance in 2010 you had the Padres and Pirates in the 30 millions for payroll while the next closest team was in the 50's. While the AL had one team that was in a whole other stratosphere when it came to spending (that same year the Yankees were spending over 40 million more than their next closest competitor) and rarely had a team at the way bottom of spending. So the AL had 13 teams that were spending a comparable amount of money as the NL's top 14 but had one team spending money like no other and the NL had to teams being cheap like no other. Houston moved over and was cheap and bad for a bit but got better and the Yankees cut back on spending.
   47. SoSH U at work Posted: July 30, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5717996)
My view was that back in the day (as early as 6 years ago) the NL historically had at least two teams at the bottom of the payroll by a good deal.


During the run of AL dominance before Houston switched leagues, the bottom two in MLB payroll featured nine NL teams and nine AL teams. There was no consistent pattern of the two extra NL franchises spending less money than the bottom of the AL. The only outlier from the payroll data was the Yankees position at the top of the pile, often by significant amounts. And it was the Yankees' success (as well as their spendy rivals to the north) that was probably the single-biggest factor in this long stretch of AL superiority. The rest of the AL had to be smarter to keep up with those two franchises, a condition that didn't exist with the NL's big dogs until more recently.

   48. Jay Seaver Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:58 AM (#5718331)
When the series moved to St. Louis, they either had to bench their best hitter, which they didn't, or they had to bench their second-best hitter, while also suffering a downgrade defensively. That batter wound up getting one PA in the three games in St. Louee. They were, on paper, a much lesser version of their normal selves under those rules.

If an AL team is built with a really good DH and has strength the other places where you would stick him, then that team is going to suffer a greater loss when the series shifts to the NL. On the other hand, if a club has a replacement level first baseman, they won't suffer as much when they move to the DH-less play, but they're also not getting much of an edge from playing in the extra bat league.

Whether they're a much lesser version of their normal selves doesn't matter. What matters is that removing the DH still leaves them a team with a full lineup, plus one absurdly good bench bat.

The DH is not a competitive advantage. It wasn't thought to be so for the first 25 years of its existence, when either the NL was the superior league or the leagues were at parity.

During those 25 years, the only interleague play was the World Series and All-Star game, and there were few people spending full time at DH in the primes of their careers like Edgar Martinez & David Ortiz. It was rare for a team to get the most they could out of the position.

And, truth be told, there still aren't many - most teams are shifting an older player who is breaking down to DH, or using it to give regulars a half-day off. In those cases, it's not much of competitive advantage (probably a bit better than the situation the NL team is in, but not by as much). But when treated as an actual position, it gives the AL team an advantage in an interleague matchup.
   49. SoSH U at work Posted: July 31, 2018 at 01:50 AM (#5718332)
Whether they're a much lesser version of their normal selves doesn't matter. What matters is that removing the DH still leaves them a team with a full lineup, plus one absurdly good bench bat.


You're doing the same thing that Fancy mentions in Post 31. You're focusing on the benefit of the extra bat, and ignoring the cost. It absolutely matters that they're a lesser version of their normal selves. Their normal selves, which featured the league's best DH and a solid-hitting, good-fielding first baseman, were good enough to win the AL. In an NL park, they turned one of their two best hitters into a bench player. There's no way that's an advantage.

Look at it this way. Say you take two evenly matched AL teams, the 2002 Mariners (93-69) and the 2001 Yankees (95-67), in a 7-game series . Seattle employs still-excellent Edgar Martinez (139 OPS+) in the DH role, with near-prime John Olerud (140 OPS+, with Olerud-level D) at first base. The Yankees fill the DH with Nick Johnson (he of the 99 OPS+ and papier mache endoskeleton). If the middle three games of that series were played with out the DH, which team would be disadvantaged more?

The problem you and CFB and others make is that you simply start from the position that having a DH makes you a better team, and thus however that "extra" bat is deployed is a positive for the club. It doesn't work that way.

During those 25 years, the only interleague play was the World Series and All-Star game, and there were few people spending full time at DH in the primes of their careers like Edgar Martinez & David Ortiz. It was rare for a team to get the most they could out of the position.


And the teams that get the most out of the position in AL games are the ones that lose the most when the DH is lost.
   50. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: July 31, 2018 at 08:29 AM (#5718351)
- the A's best bet is to play a WC game, on the road, against Sale or Severino. While they counter with... Sean Manaea?


Manaea DID throw a no hitter against the Red Sox this year.

Any team is going to go into that Wild Card as underdogs but baseball being baseball anything can happen. I've got to think that simply making the Wild Card game would be a nice achievement for a team like Oakland that wasn't expected to do much.
   51. Jay Seaver Posted: July 31, 2018 at 09:15 AM (#5718365)
But they're not being measured against a hypothetical version of themselves with or without the DH. They're playing the other team, which is weaker offensively than they are because they don't have the extra bat, whether in the lineup (AL park) or on the bench (NL park). That's obviously not the most efficient use of resources when they're in an NL park, and maybe that concentration of resources has left them weaker where pitching and defense is concerned. In the World Series, though, that's minimized somewhat because they're pushing the 5th guy in the rotation into the bullpen and relying less on the low end of the pitching staff anyway, and during regular-season interleague it's generally seemed not to be as much as a hit as having either an extended line-up or being able to call upon a much more powerful weapon in a crucial spot, based on the all-time interleague records.

Hardly the only thing going on, but a non-trivial factor, much bigger than "NL teams will be at an advantage because AL managers won't be as adept with double-switches", which seemed to be the conventional wisdom when interleague play started.
   52. SoSH U at work Posted: July 31, 2018 at 09:48 AM (#5718378)
But they're not being measured against a hypothetical version of themselves with or without the DH. They're playing the other team, which is weaker offensively than they are because they don't have the extra bat, whether in the lineup (AL park) or on the bench (NL park).


You're starting from a position that the AL team must be better because it has the DH, and working from there. That reasoning is flawed.

AL teams have a budget in which to build their teams. So do NL teams. There's no reason to think the AL has more money to spend (if anything, slightly less), so you're talking about equal resources with which to build rosters. If the AL must pay to employ a top-notch DH (which few do, as you note), then it will spend less elsewhere, and not necessarily in the fifth spot in the rotation or on a backup third baseman. It could be at second, or right, or on a closer. In any cases, having to spend money on a DH won't make them a better team than their NL counterpart.

As long as the AL teams do not have more money to spend, in total, then having a DH is not an inherent advantage. Having a really good one would be an advantage when the games are in the AL parks, but then that team will suffer more when the games shift to the NL parks.

   53. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 10:54 AM (#5718411)
Having apparently nothing better to do, I calculated the Red Sox' home and road records from 2004 through 2016, the Ortiz-DH years. I didn't include 2003 because he played a lot of first base that year.

In regular-season interleague games 2004-16, the Sox played .702 ball at home and .570 on the road. This is over 242 games (85-36 at home, 69-52 at home).

Over the same period, the Sox played .576 at home, .495 on the road in intraleague games. So they were .126 better at home and .075 better on the road in interleague play.

There are doubtless numerous other ways of looking at this this, and Ortiz is only one factor among many that might be at work. But it doesn't contradict the idea that a team that relies on a star DH is going to get some advantage at home against NL clubs (or at least, that this single franchise did). The Sox played better against the NL than the AL, presumably because the AL was stronger; but they played even better when they could use Ortiz at DH.

   54. SoSH U at work Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:02 AM (#5718414)
But it doesn't contradict the idea that a team that relies on a star DH is going to get some advantage at home against NL clubs


I don't think anyone has ever disputed that.
   55. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:04 AM (#5718418)
I don't think anyone has ever disputed that

No, I know that's the prevailing theory. It's just that the theory as presented is usually mostly theoretical :)

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