The Athletics' First 30 Days

Go!

The first month of 2014 is set up to be the best month on the Oakland Athletics' 2014 schedule. Multiple Texas and Seattle injury's will help. Ranked by 2013 winning%, the teams the A's face in April will be the weakest. Half of the A.L. West games are also against LH starting-pitching; that will help the A's as well. Lets take a look at the who and why of it.

The Athletics' First 30 Days.

First, the April Schedule

Games Home / Away Team Notes Wins
3 VS Cleveland Indians .568 in 2013 1
4 VS Seattle Mariners #2 and #3 starters out N/A
3 @ Minnesota Twins .407 in 2013 N/A
3 @ Seattle Mariners .438 in 2013 N/A
3 @

Los Angeles Angels

.481 in 2013 N/A
3 VS Houston Astros .315 in 2013 N/A
3 VS Texas Rangers #1,  #2 and #3 starting pitchers are on D.L N/A
4 @ Houston Astros . N/A
3 @ Texas Rangers .558 in 2013 N/A
29 13 HM 16 AWAY 23 games vs American League West


First thing we notice is there is going to be a lot of games vs the American League West. And that means a lot of games vs LH Starting Pitchers in the American League West. The most by far in MLB. *2nd Place: AL EAST 32%

Expected Starters in April
Team LHSP
Texas 3
Angels 3
Mariners 2
Astros 2
Athletics 2
Expected LH Starter Innings 48%

Why does 48% matter? Oakland has set itself up to be one of the best teams in MLB this year vs LHP. http://www.athleticsnation.com/2014/3/31/5563214/how-the-as-secret-weapon-will-win-the-west

Craig Gentry and Nick Punto are going to help the team be a little better on offense; and a lot better on defense compared to the very good 2013 team. Thats important because Pythagorean expectations (predicting winning percentage by using runs scored and runs against) do not care whether it is a run scored or a run saved.

In effect, a solo home run = a solo home run robbed as far as the A's are concerned. Gentry and Punto are going to (metaphorically) rob a lot of solo home runs this year. But what about Texas and L.A.? How will they fare vs LHSP this year? Texas was great vs LHSP last year with a .628 winning percentage, but they subtracted these five players from their previously list of good hitters vs LHSP in 2013:

    Player 2013 wRC+ vs LHP
    Jeff Baker 183
    Ion Kinsler 122
    Nelson Cruz 122
    Craig Gentry 119
    Lance Berkman 110

    100 is average. League and Park adjusted. Jeff Baker was 83% better than league average.
    What about the two huge names and two huge contracts in Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder they added this year? Expensive and/or flawed.  Choo hit wRC+ 80 vs LHSP in 2012-2013 and is considered quite bad on Defense (-15UZR/150). The Athletics can only hope he plays every day. Texas will be paying Choo $130 million for 7 more years of that. Craig Gentry (127.5 adjusted* wRC+ vs LHP, 31 UZR/150) will be paid $1.15 million in his first arb year. His second and third arb years may be only $2 and $3 million. *( I added in his SB/CS vs LHP to his LH wRC+ split).
    Fielder is equally good at either side with the bat with a 125 wRC+ vs LHSP in 2013. But he's mostly replacing Jeff Baker who was better in 2013 vs LHSP; and Baker was also much better on defense at 1B. (20 UZR/150 vs -5 UZR/150.)
    Texas, with Fielder, is no better at 1B vs LHSP.  Baker signed for less than $2 million dollars a year with the Marlins. Texas will pay $138 million for Fielder over 7 more years.  Fielder and Choo are also going to (metaphorically) give up a lot of solo-HR's this year.
    What else have the Angels been up to? Can THEY take advantage of American League West LHSP?
    Well, the Angels were terrible last year against LHSP with a 18-26 record. ( .409%). What can we expect from their main changes? Mark Trumbo had a (153 wRC+) vs LHP in 2013. He's Gone. Alberto Callaspo, best vs LHP (115 wRC+). He's Gone. Their two expensive superstars? Josh Hamilton had a 61wRC+ vs LHP in 2013. $100 million for 4 more years of him. Albert Pujols also is was much worse vs LHP with a81 wRC+ in 2013. $200 million and 8 more years for him. New 3B David Freise better side is vs LHSP. But he is about the same as Callaspo, so 3B is even to 2013.
    Seattle was 22-29 in 2013. (.431).  Robinson Cano has been average vs LHP in 2012-2013 (100 wRC+) but far better vs RHP.  He will be paid $240 million/10 years.  Nick Punto has hit about average as well vs LHP (108 wRC+ in 2012-2013), but has a UZR/150 advantage. Punto has a (+10UZR/150) (+7 to -3) 2B fielding advantage over Cano for his career.  He will be paid $3 million over two years.  Corey Hart was a nice pick-up for Seattle vs LHP (160 wRC+ his last two years played) but most of Seattle's team is not good vs LHP.
    Conclusion:

By 2013 winning %, April is the "easiest" month on Oakland's schedule @ (.453)

  • (5) Texas and (2) Mariner injuries should also help Oakland to start the year.
  • Doubling the projected Mariner and Astro's LHSP the first month will also mean the Athletics will see LHSP 50% of the time in ( 23 ) American League West games, something they may be particularly good at. Texas won't be nearly as good at it anymore, and L.A. may be particularly bad at it. Seattle is looking to improve, and may be a darkhorse for second place.
  • Being good vs LHP is much cheaper than being good vs RHP. Good defense is cheap as well, especially in arbitration. The A's doubly doubled up on both (Gentry/Punto) for peanuts. (2014-$2.65m, 2015-$3.5m, $2016-$3m ? Gentry.) That's how a MLB team wins games these days with the 25th lowest payroll in MLB. Market inefficiency's. It used to be OBP.
  • None of the other teams in the American League West are set up to take advantage of all the LH starting pitchers besides the A's. Texas, L.A. and Seattle are paying a lot of money for that privilege and they are going to be doing it for a lot of years.

In the Athletics First 30 Days, the door has been opened wide for a big month. Oakland just has to walk through it.

    American League West Notes

Mlb_al_west_medium

    Mariners
  • Missing Hisashi Iwakuma (#2 starter) and (#3 starter) Taijuan Walker early in the season could particularly hurt the Seattle Mariners since they play the Athletics 10 times before May 7. "If Walker and Iwakuma miss the month of April, with our schedule that month it could get ugly," a Mariners source tellsHeyman.
  • Mariner Injury update: 2 updates
  • Iwakuma (finger) has yet to begin a rehab assignment, as of Wednesday, Greg Johns of MLB.comreports.
  • Walker (shoulder) reported to High-A High Desert to start his rehabilitation Wednesday, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports.
  • I had earlier projected the Mariners Left-Handed starters to have ~20% of their total starter innings in 2014 ( How the Athletics Secret Weapon Will Win the West). With the Mariner pitching injuries, it now looks like it will be 40% to start 2014 with #2 starter James Paxton ( was #4) and #5 starter Roenis Elias ( was #7).

Astros

  • Pitching. I had originally projected Astro's Left-Handed starters would pitch ~20% of Astros total starter innings in 2014. It now looks like it will be 40% to start 2014 with (#3) starter Brett Oberholtzerand (#5) starter Dallas Keuchel.

Texas-

  • Five injury updates:
  • (#1 starter)  Yu Darvish (neck) will get the start Sunday for the Rangers against Alex Cobb in Tampa Bay, Fox Sports Southwest's Anthony Andro reports.
  • (#2 starter) Derek Holland (LH) (knee) threw 25 pitches Wednesday and will throw again Saturday in Surprise, AZ, which marks the first time he's thrown since his surgery, the Rangers' official Twitter feed reports.
  • (#3 starter) Matt Harrison (LH)  (back) will make a rehab start Thursday at Double-A Frisco, ESPNDallas.com report.
  • 2B- Starter. Jurickson Profar will be out at least 10 weeks due to a torn muscle in his shoulder.
  • C- Starter. Geovany Soto (knee) was placed on the 60-day disabled list Sunday, MLB.com reports.
Athletics-
  • LH Drew Pomeranz may play a role in the A.L.West this year. The A's can use him as a #7 starter and long man. 90 innings. 5-10 starts. Helping the A's advantage.
  • They could also trade him to Seattle or Houston where he could get #4-5 starter innings. This would gain the A's another player, while at the same time, all together now:
  • Help the A's advantage.

Thanks for sticking around. Here's a little extra for those who did.

Bonus: The Last 30 days-
  • September 2014 was tied with April (.453) as the "easiest" month by 2013 win %.
  • 19 games vs teams with a .481 win% or less in 2013.
  • 7 games against Texas.
  • Not exactly scary at this point in time.
  • I would like to end "The last 30 days" with this comment which I found deep down a forum page that intrigued me:

"One of the things that revolutionized the 100 meter dash was a theory that instead of running your fastest split the 1st 50 meters and then slowing consistently down to the finish (which it turns out is what was happening to most sprinters since forever because even elite athletes get fatigued subtly giving max effort over 100 yard) you try to run the same split for every 10 meter increment, giving consistent effort. Study showed this led to faster times. One of the things that happened was that at the end, it looked like the consistent effort sprinter was surging forward when in reality the other runners were simply slowing down.

I’ve felt this way about the Athletics for some time now. The depth, particularly in pitching, allows them to be consistent in the quality of their baseball all through the year, but it really shows up as the season goes on and other teams without theirdepth start to use replacement players.

Anecdotally, it’s seemed like the Athletics have consistently had solid advantages in pitching match ups over each 3 or 4 game series as the season goes on. So many teams are forced to run out 6th and 7th starter options that are sub-replacement. Yeah it’s cliché to say you need a lot of pitching. But watching how pitching depth actually operates as a season winds on has been interesting here in Oakland." Oaktown Steve.

The Oakland Athletics had the best record in MLB in September 2012-2013. If the Athletics start off hot, the rest of the American League West may have a very difficult time catching up.  How do you think the Athletics will do this month?

  • The Athletics record in September over the last two seasons is 36-19. (.654)
  • The Athletics record post-June over the last two seasons is 105-57. (.648)
    OmahaHi-
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