The Big Question Everybody Seems to Be Asking; Are The Oakland Athletics For Real?

Last season the Oakland Athletics caught everybody off-guard by winning the American League West. It was a stunning run that saw the Athletics take advantage of the Rangers epic collapses. Their run left baseball fans everywhere stunned, and surprised; the reality though is that it shouldn’t have. Their run has left baseball fans wondering if the Athletics are for real, or if they caught lightning in a bottle last season.

It is an interesting question, and one that I thought I could get a pretty reliable answer from looking at their statistical profile over the last four years; 2009 was when I thought Oakland was going to start turning things around…I was kind of right, take a look at the table below;

Year

RC/G (Offense)

OPS (Offense)

SLG (Offense)

OBP (Offense)

OBP+ (Offense)

BB/9 (Pitching)

K/9 (Pitching)

K/BB (Pitching)

2009

4.5

.726

.397

.328

92

3.3

7.0

2.15

2010

4.3

.702

.378

.324

92

3.2

6.7

2.09

2011

4.0

.680

.369

.311

88

3.2

7.2

2.24

2012

4.4

.714

.404

.310

97

2.8

7.0

2.46

For the most part, the Athletics offense has followed the rest of baseball in its offensive decline. The steadily declining OPS (from 2009-2011) shows that the A’s offense has not done them any favors over the last four years. In fact, their high 2012 OPS actually hide the fact that Billy Beane’s squad has gotten worse at getting on base during that time frame.

Now the 2012 OPS was driven by the high number of Dingers that the A’s hit last season; they hit 195 last season, that’s good for a 60 Dinger improvement over 2009 (they hit 135 that year). It is also interesting to note that despite posting their worst OPS in four seasons, the A’s still were able still able to create 4.4 runs per game (their second best during this span).

While their offense steadily declined heading into their breakout season, the Athletics pitching actually remained pretty consistent. Their strikeouts per nine innings stayed pretty consistent throughout the last four seasons, the highest being 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings and their lowest being 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings.  Even  more impressive than that, their walks per nine innings decreased from 2009 to 2012.

Now, to answer the question that started this entire post; are the Athletics for real? The short answer is, more than likely.

The reason I feel like the A’s are for real is because that despite a decline in the team’s ability to get on base, they should still be able to produce enough runs for their pitching staff to carry them through the season. If the A’s can get on base more often than their offense will make them a more complete team going forward; a more winning team, perhaps.

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