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Why We Shouldn't Overreact to the Offense

Sure, the A's rank 25th in runs scored as of today, with 80. But why shouldn't we overreact to this tough month? A handful of reasons, starting with the biggest:

  • The offense is going to regress upward. Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA projection system has the A's scoring 570 runs in the remainder of the season. That comes out to 4.1 runs per game, and that projection is computed after knowing that the A's have only hit for 3.5 runs per game so far. Intriguingly, Baseball Prospectus also has the A's ranked fourth in their power rankings (here, requires subscription). I'm assuming much of that is because they have the A's allowing the fewest runs in the majors, even among the teams in the DH-less National League.
  • Josh Willingham's bat. The A's essentially have a fairly similar offense to last year's, with one big upgrade: Josh Willingham in left field over the unholy trio of Rajai Davis, Gabe Gross, and Eric Patterson, who combined for 52% of our left field production last year. The remainder was split among such (un)notables as Conor Jackson, Chris Carter, and Matt Watson. The 2010 A's LFers combined for a major league worst .243/.297/.352, an astoundingly terrible line from what should be the third strongest spot in the lineup. Josh Willingham has a career line of .264/.366/.472, which comes out to an improvement of 40 runs over last year's LFers, over a full season of 650 PAs. Expect Josh to take his place as Oakland's best hitter, after he acclimates himself to the unfamiliar American League pitchers.
  • Offense is down league-wide. Again. Sure, the A's have had a tough start with the bats, but so has everybody. In fact, the A's have a park-adjusted offense that ranks in the middle of the pack, at 18th. Among the teams that Oakland is out-hitting? Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Colorado, and Chicago (AL).
  • The offense has been unlucky in clutch situations. Clutchness is, by and large, an uncontrollable phenomenon. Because of that, we should expect those who have been clutch to regress downwards in important situations, and we should expect those who haven't been clutch to regress upwards. The A's batters have been unlucky by almost eight tenths of a win so far, and the correct statistical thing to do is to assume that that number will regress upward to zero.
  • The A's have had a really tough schedule, pitching-wise. Take a look at some the starting pitchers we've faced so far. Felix Hernandez (twice), Ricky Romero, Carl Pavano, Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, John Danks, Justin Verlander, Clay Buchholz, and Jered Weaver. The pitchers listed above constitute almost half of the games Oakland has played so far. Any offense would struggle when facing that gauntlet.

Join the AN gamethread when Brandon McCarthy faces Tyler Chatwood in Anaheim at 7:05.

Current Series

Angels lead the series 1-0

Mon 04/25 WP: Jered Weaver (6 - 0)
LP: Gio Gonzalez (2 - 2)
0 - 5 loss

Oakland Athletics
@ Los Angeles Angels

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2011, 7:05 PM PDT
Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Brandon McCarthy vs Tyler Chatwood

Partly cloudy. Winds blowing out to right field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 75.

Complete Coverage >

Wed 04/27 4:05 PM PDT