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The 1960 St. Louis Cardinals

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To be sure, the A’s have had a slow start to the season. In addition to their record-tying ninth consecutive Opening Day loss, the A’s already added another page to the franchise record books yesterday evening.

Hopefulyl half of Bob Gibson
Hopefulyl half of Bob Gibson
USA TODAY Sports

Here is the ignominious record, as tweeted by David Feldman:

So, I thought I'd look at how the A's compare to those 1960 Cardinals. Information comes from none other than Baseball-Reference.

First, keep in mind that in that day, they played 154 game seasons. Here is their starting lineup:

Hal Smith, C

Bill White, 1B

Julian Javier, 2B (father of former A's player Stan Javier)

Daryl Spencer, SS

Ken Boyer, 3B

Stan Musial, LF

Curt Flood, CF

Joe Cunningham, RF

And the starters:

Larry Jackson

Ray Sadecki

Curt Simmons

Ernie Broglio

Ron Kline

With none other than Bob Gibson making 12 starts in his second season, and stinking up the joint with a 5.61 ERA, 5.0 BB/9, and 7.2 K/9. No wonder he was the sixth starter. There's hope for you yet, Dan Straily!

There are also some fantastic names on this team: Vinegar Bend Mizell. Two guys with the last name Bridges: Rocky and Marshall. The manager Solly Hemus. And our soon-to-be-retired friend, Tim McCarver, who was an 18-year old catcher getting his second cup of coffee in the last two months of the season, primarily as a late-inning defensive replacement. (Relatedly: who is the guy on the A's who is most likely to be a knowledgeable but unloved broadcaster 40 years from now? My vote would be for Josh Reddick.)

As far as comparisons to the current A's team, let's look at OPS+. Here is that lineup above with their associated OPS+:

Player

OPS+

Smith

56

White

107

Javier

62

Spencer

104

Boyer

143

Musial

121

Flood

74

Cunningham

99

Remember, they didn't have a DH back then, so here are the OPS+ for their starters: 31, 46, 16, 37, -24, and 4. Looks like pitchers couldn't hit 53 years ago, either.

Now, here is the lineup for the A's, and their 2012 OPS+:

Player

OPS+

John Jaso

144

Brandon Moss

160

Eric Sogard

32

Jed Lowrie

108

Josh Donaldson

89

Yoenis Cespedes

137

Coco Crisp

105

Josh Reddick

110

Jonny Gomes/Seth Smith

140/109

If you do the appropriate math, you can see that those Cardinals had an OPS+ 89, compared to last year's A's of 97. (Fine print: pitchers are not included in the OPS+ calculations from 1960, but DH's obviously are in 2012. So, the numbers might be closer in truth than they appear now.)

Where the Cardinals really got by was on the strength of their pitching. Here are the starters with their ERA+

Larry Jackson 117

Ray Sadecki 108

Curt Simmons 153

Ernie Broglio 148

Ron Kline 67

Suffice it to say, I'm not sure the A's rotation compares. Brett Anderson is the most likely character to achieve an ERA+ of greater than 130, but there would need to be significant steps forward from Parker, Milone, Griffin, or Straily in order for them to get to 130 ERA+ or greater.

If you squint, you can see the outline of some comparisons: those Cardinals needed good pitching to compete, and the A's will also need that. In total, the Cardinals had a 112 ERA+ in total, and last year's A's were at 114. Both teams were relatively light-hitting compared to their league. It'd be a stretch, if not a joke, though, to say the A's have two hall of famers on their roster right now.

I saved the best thing for last: those Cardinals finished with 86 wins and a .558 win percentage. In a 162 game season, that translates to about 90 wins. I think I'll take it.