I think all three of them might be league-average-or-better hitters by then. That’s when the A’s contending window opens again, IMO – when those three are hitting better than league average. Not an easy task when half your games are in the Coliseum.
I think all three will play a full season in Sac this year, and I think all three will take their lumps as rookies in ’11, in the same way that 95% of all rookies do.
I think it’s conceivable that the A’s are contenders in 2012, and I think that they’ll definitely be contenders in 2013-2014, when basically the entire core is in its mid-to-late-20s.
The Pythag projections below won’t match up properly with actual playoff percentages, because I didn’t research any of this*, but this is kinda what’s going on in my head right now*:
A’s playoff odds:
2009: 78 “paper” wins, 5% chance of playoffs ($50M payroll)
2011: 85 “paper” wins, 25% chance of playoffs
2012: 88 “paper” wins, 30% chance of playoffs
2013: 91 “paper” wins, 35% chance of playoffs
2014: 95 “paper” wins, 50% chance of playoffs (with a willingness to expand payroll significantly to $80-90M if they are in a new stadium and great players such as Rick Porcello and Elvis Andrus reach FA here (at age 26!) and fill an obvious area of need).
2015 95 "paper" wins, 50% chance of playoffs
*Go easy on me; none of that is researched, but it could be good fodder for conversation - “the win curve, playoff percentage odds, and how it arcs into a peak for the A’s in 2014-2015.” (Right around the time of the new stadium is when I predict they will peak – it’s a nice confluence of players reaching their primes and yet not being too expensive yet).
I'd be grateful if someone could assist me in inputing actual, realistic/sabermetric playoff percentage odds based upon the projected win totals listed above. Also, if you could remind me of the figures for the expected deviation from a Pythagorean win total - I'm looking for some golden nugget sentence/explanation like this: "an 85-win paper team is expected to win +/- 8 games, and finish with somewhere between 77 and 93 wins."
Obviously we can't know exactly what the surrounding pieces of the team will be in 2011 and beyond. But I think we can assume that, once this team is on the cusp of contention, that the team will raise payroll and perhaps even make Andre Ethier-for-Milton Bradley-type trades - point being, we can project an eventual significant rise in this team's "wins on paper".
I thought that a very interesting comment from iglew when he saw this chart was, "I'd much rather have 87 "paper" wins every year, and a 29% percent chance of making the playoffs every year." Do you agree? Equally important, is it even possible for the A's to achieve that, given their payroll?
Is the arc of wins that I created above realistic? Keep in mind that we can't possibly know the exact strength of the three other divisional opponents in those years, and that would be a must to accurately forecast any divisional race. However, given Texas' farm system and the Seattle/LAA budget, I think that forecasting any AL West team to have greater than a 50% chance at making the playoffs during those years would be foolhardy, given that we are dividing that 100% pie up amongst four teams that project to be decent or better. If I could do that chart all over again I'd probably put the A's at 40-45% playoff odds during those peak years, and lower the playoff odds in 2011 to 20%