Oakland Athletics May Preview

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The Oakland Athletics just completed a nice month in spectacular fashion with the three game sweep of Texas. The A's finished at 18-10, outscored Texas 25-4, and put a major beat down on their best pitchers. Aug. 12-14, 2008. The last time Rangers starters pitched less than 5 IP and gave up 4+ runs in 3 straight starts against the same opponent. This 18-10 record was expected by Athletics Nation. How about the month of May?

The Athletics May Preview

In my April preview; The First 30 Days, 50% of Athletics Nation voters thought the A's would win 17 or 18 games in the first month. It was nice to confirm what we all hoped and thought as the A's settle into another playoff bound 2014. A lot of the expected contenders in 2014 have not treated their fans so kind.

Before the A's start getting comfortable however, they need to remember that April may be the easiest month of the 2014 schedule. The teams they played in April had a 2013 winning percentage of .453. Texas and Seattle had multiple starting pitcher injury's (three each). Texas also had multiple starting fielder injury's (three starters). It was a good month to play both those teams.

Those same teams ended up with an April 2014 winning percentage of .450. Team Rankings had the A's April schedule as the 2nd easiest in MLB.  How about the month of May? I am going to break down May's rivals by a combination of runs scored differential, current ESPN Power Rank, odds predictive ranks (teamrankings.com), and April winning percentage.

Games Home / Away Team

Runs / Against/ Difference

baseballreference.com

Power Rankings

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Predictive Ranking Odds

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Win%
3 @ Boston Red Sox 4.1-----4.6-----(-.5) 14 25 .481
4 VS Seattle Mariners 3.9----- 4.1-----(-.2) 27 14 .440
3 VS Washington Nationals 4.4-----4.0-----(+.4) 9 2 .571
3 VS Chicago White Sox 5.5-----5.2----- (+.3) 18 21 .483
3 @ Cleveland Indians 3.9-----4.6----- (-.7) 22 24 .393
3 @ Tampa Bay Rays 4.1-----4.6----- (-.5) 20 28 .407
3 @ Toronto Blue Jays 4.6-----4.8----- (-.2) 21 27 .444
4 VS Detroit Tigers 4.5-----4.3-----(+.2) 6 12 .609
2 VS Los Angeles Angels 5.5-----4.2-----(1.3) 15 5 .519




Average Rank- #17 Average Rank- #17 .483 (#18)
28 16 hm / 12 rd 6 games vs A.L West (22 in April)
Seattle is ranked harshly. odds-makers really like L.A.

When I first looked at May's schedule this off season, May looked like a tough month. Looking at it now, May seems littered with under-performing teams. Boston and Tampa were the favorites of the A.L. East. Cleveland was a 2013 playoff team. The Rays and Indians are currently last in their divisions. Boston is under .500. Even though the teams the A's play in May (.483) are cumulatively better than April (.450), May no longer looks particularly daunting.

Another thing I noticed is how far off ESPN currently is from Vegas on the two A.L. West teams. This is mostly based on run differential.  Look for the Angels to make a move this month as they are currently #2 in run differential in MLB. The Mariners also could make a move as they ought to be receiving multiple starting pitching reinforcements soon.

Oakland went 18-9 in April, marking the team's 11th consecutive winning month dating back to June of 2012, which ties for the second longest such streak in Oakland history (July, 1989-May 1991)

Lets see some more team notes.

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Boston Red Sox: 13-14.  SB Nation Red Sox blog: Over the Monster

Boston's offense has started out slow only scoring 4.1 runs a game. ( 5.3 lead MLB in 2013). Jacoby Ellsbury and Steven Drew leaving hasn't helped. Boston's 4.6 runs against ( 4.0 in 2013) is also keeping them down. The Red Sox have probably been one of the biggest disappointment in MLB so far this year coming off a WS victory. The A's will see a tired Boston team on Friday since the Red Sox play a double-header Thursday.

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Washington Nationals: 16-12

Washington is in an unexpected dog fight. Atlanta; like the Athletics, had multiple pitchers go down with Tommy John surgery but have still chugged along nicely with the second best record in the National League this year. The N.Y. Mets and Florida Marlins have also surprised by playing over .500 ball.

  • LF Bryce Harper- out two months with UCL thumb surgery. Will not play.
  • 3B Ryan Zimmerman-out. Fractured thumb. Should not play.
  • C Wilson Ramon-out. Wrist. Has been out all year. He hopes to resume playing early next week.
  • SP #4. Doug Fister-out. Back. Has not played this year but did throw a rehab start last Sunday.

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Chicago White Sox: 14-15

The White Sox are one of the surprise teams of 2014. Their 5.5 runs a game leads MLB ( LAA., MIN, COL, CWS all tied at 5.5). Cuban 1B ROY candidate Jose Abreu is a big reason why with 10 HR in April. (wRC+ 153/OPS .961). He signed a 68m/6 year contract that is the steal of the off-season. Their pitching is still suspect however as the White Sox are #27 in runs given up in MLB.

#1 Starter Chris Sale- 15 Day D.L. Sale could need a rehab start or two before returning from the D.L. this week. Because of his herky-jerky unconventional delivery, many felt an arm injury was inevitable. A flexor muscle strain in his left arm will mean the Sox will proceed extra cautiously, perhaps missing the A's.

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Cleveland Indians: 11-17

Cleveland has been healthy but ineffective. After making the playoffs in 2013 the Indians had a quiet off-season signing no one of note. They also lost SP Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez. They did make one notable minor league signing: Aaron Harang. Harang didn't make the 25 man roster and opted out of his contract for the Atlanta Braves. Harang currently leads MLB starting pitchers with a 0.85 ERA.

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Tampa Bay Rays: 11-16

The Rays went for it this year by spending over $80 million dollars for the first time in franchise history. This is something the front office admitted wasn't sustainable. They assembled a club that was a favorite to win it all this off season but early results have been less than stellar. #2 starter Matt Moore was lost to T.J. surgery. Ex Athletic Grant Balfour started off the year well, but has since gone down hill quickly with a 6.10 era/7.18 fip and has not pitched since blowing a huge lead off a Jose Abreu grand slam last Friday.

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Toronto Blue Jays: 12-15

Another team that had a quiet off season. The J's are healthy and can score. Their SP has been average, but the J's bullpen is the third worst in MLB this year.

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Detroit Tigers: 14-9

Detroit is the early winner of the Ian Kinsler / Price Fielder trade. Even though Kinsler has only been average (wRC+ 96 / .718 OPS) he has been much better than Fielder (wRC+ 60 / OPS .645 ). He also saved Detroit $50 million dollars or so.

American League West Notes

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First Place: Oakland A's 18-10 ( .643)

Runs Scored: 5.3 (5th)

Runs against: 3.2 (3rd)

Run differential: 2.1 (1st)



  • Eric O'Flaherty  RP.  4/22/2014: (elbow) threw all of his pitches at full distance Tuesday for the first time since his Tommy John surgery, CSN's Joe Stiglich reports. The A's believe that he could be cleared to face live hitters by the time they return from their next road trip. He remains on track to rejoin the A's bullpen at some point in June. Apr 19 - Source: Jane Lee
  • Addison Russell SS. 4/09/2014: The Athletics shortstop prospect will miss at least a month with a Grade 3 strain of his right hamstring, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reports.
  • Medical reference note. There are three levels of hamstring strains: Grade 1 -- mild muscle strain or pull. Grade 2 -- partial muscle tear. Grade 3 -- complete muscle tear. If the injury is very close to the buttock or knee or there is a lot of bruising this may mean the hamstring was pulled off the bone and will likely need (orthopedic) surgery.
  • Steven Vogt C.  4/10/2014: will likely be on the shelf for 2-3 weeks. Source: Susan Slusser. Its now been three weeks so we should hear more soon.
  • Nate Frieman 1B. Has a 59 wRC+ in AAA. He has a .716 OPS vs LHP.

2nd Place: Texas Rangers - 15-13 (.536) Scored: 4.07 (#18) Against: 4.82 (# 25) Difference: (#25)

  • Those numbers changed just a bit the last few days. Texas has actually done very well for themselves considering all their injury's. The Rangers just posted their lowest HR/FB (6.4%) in a calendar month since July 2007.
  • 2B Jurickson Profar- 60 day D.L. C Geovany Soto- 60 day D.L. SP Derek Holland- 60 day DL.
  • 4/29/2014: UTL Kevin Kouzmanoff is expected to undergo surgery on the herniated disc in his back, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Kouz was one of the hottest hitters in MLB in April (wRC+ 177 / 1.030 OPS) covering for the now healthy Adrian Beltre.
  • 4/28/2014: SP Matt Harrison (back) tossed six solid frames, allowing two earned runs on just three hits with four strikeouts Sunday versus the Mariners in his 2014 debut. Harrison pitched only 10 innings in 2013 after back to back 4 WARish seasons in 2011-12.
  • 4/29/2014: SP Joe Saunders (15 day DL ankle) will throw three innings at extended spring training Friday, Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest.com reports.
  • 4/29/2014: SP Tanner Scheppers (15 day. DL elbow) will begin a throwing program Wednesday, Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest.com reports.
  • OF Michael Choice is currently losing the Gentry trade war. He has a 62 wRC+ /.586 OPS. Gentry? A 136 wRC+ / .830 OPS.


Third Place: Los Angeles Angels 14-13 (.519) Scored: 5.5 (1st) Against: 4.0 (15th) Difference: (2nd)

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  • Expensive superstars Hamilton (8 games of 255 wRC+) and Pujols (152 wRC+) started off hot. Mike Trout is on pace for a 14 WAR year.  Angel starters have been solid not spectacular. Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago are the new additions. The Angels weakness is the bullpen.
  • 4/09/2014: Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton has suffered a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament of his left thumb as well as a torn capsule, the team announced. He will undergo surgery in the next few days and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
  • 4/29/2014: Josh Hamilton (thumb) is a week away from baseball activities, but was running the bases and hitting with one hand Tuesday, the Orange County Register's Jeff Fletcher reports.
  • 4/27/2014: Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Grant Green (157 wRC+ in AAA) has been playing some outfield in Triple-A to increase his versatility, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.

Seattle Mariners 11-14 (.440) Scored: 3.88 (# 21) Against: 4.08 (# 14) Difference: (#17)

  • A month into the season with no Walker, Paxton, or Iwakuma and only 3 games under 500. All three are due back soon.
  • 4/29/2014: Hisashi Iwakuma (finger) is on track to start Friday at Houston, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News-Tribune reports.
  • 4/23/2014: Taijuan Walker (shoulder) will resume throwing Monday, Shannon Drayer of 710 AM ESPN Seattle reports.
  • 4/25/2014: James Paxton tested his strained back muscle by throwing for five minutes from 45 feet Friday, the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
  • 2B Robinson Cano has been very average for $24 million dollars. wRC+ 96/ OPS .724.
  • 1B/DH/OF Corey Hart was one of my targets for the A's this off season. Hart has a wRC+ of 120/ OPS .790.

Houston Astros 9-19 (.321) Scored: 3.26 (29th) Against: 5.00 (27th) Difference (29th).

  • I may need to make the Astro's logo smaller.
  • Rookie George Springer hasn't started off well with a 39wRC+ / OPS .479 in 14 games. Springer was a consensus top #10-20 prospect in MLB.
  • Max Stassi- 117wRC+ / .861 OPS in AAA.
  • Chris Carter- 78wRC+ / .627 OPS.
  • Brad Peacock- 5.95era/ 4.54fip


-OmahaHi

( I was lucky and guessed 18 last month, how about in May?)

* updated strength of schedule.

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