I don't play the Powerball that often, but I'm happy to join in the hype surrounding tonight's $1.5 billion drawing ($930 million cash value, in the vicinity of $500 million after taxes) by sharing my can't lose* methods of choosing your Powerball numbers.
*You will almost certainly lose.
Which is to say my method of choosing numbers is as dumb as any other method of choosing numbers. Well, that's not quite true. It's just slightly better than doing something like picking your parents' or kids' birthdays, because a lot of people do that and there are only 12 months and up to 31 days in a month: so there's a greater chance you're going to share a jackpot with somebody else who did the same thing.
Here's how I came up with my five picks:
Personal favorites on the current A's roster
If you asked me tomorrow, these six would probably change, but I just felt good about these six this morning:
- 19 Josh Phegley: So many White Sox fans bagged on Phegley, and I love how he came alive as the second catcher last year.
- 25 Tyler Ladendorf: I've been pulling for Ladendorf for a long time, and it was a privilege to watch his spectacular debut in person. I hope he gets over the injury bug this season.
- 31 Kendall Graveman: It's been interesting seeing him grow after advancing to the major leagues so quickly. Plus, who can keep his grin off your powerball ticket?
- 54 Sonny Gray: Our Cy Young finalist will throw a no-hitter someday soon. This is the year!
- 62 Sean Doolittle: He's just a cool dude.
- POWERBALL 20 Mark Canha: I guess the Marlins had to pick between Justin Bour and Mark Canha, but I'm really glad the Cal alum and San Jose native has a chance to shine in Oakland. Canha is the Powerball for his easy power.
Top 2015 performance by WAR
If you want to go strictly by the numbers, the quick way is to grab the top six A's of 2015 is by Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement:
- 54 Sonny Gray: 5.8 WAR. I would make him my Powerball, except the Powerball only goes up to 26.
- POWERBALL 21 Stephen Vogt: 3.5 WAR. Oakland's other 2015 All-Star, Stephen Vogt, gets Powerball honors instead.
- 22 Josh Reddick: 3.5 WAR
- 26 Scott Kazmir: 3.3 WAR
- 1 Billy Burns: 2.8 WAR
- 10 Marcus Semien: 2.7 WAR
Most WAR in Oakland history
Perhaps you want to forget about the recent season and turn your thoughts instead to the glorious history of the Oakland Athletics since moving from Kansas City for the 1968 season.
The Baseball-Reference Play Index will tell you that in Oakland history, seven position players had higher career WAR in Oakland than any pitcher, so you're going to get a lot of low player numbers in this one:
- POWERBALL 24 Rickey Henderson (72.5 WAR): He's the greatest of all time.
- 6 Sal Bando (50.5 WAR): Captain Sal kept those Swingin' A's together through three championships under Charlie Finley's crazy.
- 9 Reggie Jackson (48.5 WAR): Three rings and third on the Oakland All-Time WAR list? Who cares what hat he put on his Hall of Fame plaque? He's the straw that stirs the drink.
- 25 Mark McGwire (42.8 WAR): McGwire made a lot of 1990s A's baseball watchable.
- 19 Bert Campaneris (42.3 WAR): You can still find Campy signing autographs for charity at Spring Training or palling around with Will Ferrell.
- 3 Eric Chavez (34.8 WAR): Chavvy in his prime was one of my favorites.
Most pitcher WAR in Oakland history
Good pitchers are the bread-and-butter of a good team at the Coliseum. They're also a good way to make sure you don't end up with a lot of low numbers on your POWERBALL ticket.
One problem, Barry Zito is second all-time (30.5 WAR), but the regular Powerball numbers only go up to 69, so I'll have to skip Zito. Fortunately, that opens the door for Dennis Eckersley:
- POWERBALL 15 Tim Hudson (31.0 WAR): From the sixth round of the 1997 draft to the most productive pitcher the A's have had in Oakland, Huddy's farewell game against Barry Zito last September was well-deserved.
- 14 Vida Blue (29.1 WAR): Vida Blue once pitched 11 shutout innings for the A's in 1971 and had a Game Score of 100, but it wasn't even the best Game Score of that game because his opponent threw 12 shutout innings and had a Game Score of 103. Neither pitcher earned the decision, because the A's and Angels played 20 that night at the Coliseum, winning 1-0.
- 27 Catfish Hunter (20.9 WAR): Ray Fosse once told Athletics Nation of Catfish Hunter, "I'd be behind the plate and the umpire would look out and go ‘Catfish Hunter, huh'? ‘Bout an hour and a half tonight and we'll be out of here.' And sure enough, that's just the way his reputation worked."
- 20 Mark Mulder (19.7 WAR): Besides being one of the best A's pitchers in Oakland history, the current A's 40-man roster has four players who can trace their trade lineage back to Mark Mulder: Eric Sogard, Fernando Rodriguez, Yonder Alonso, and Marc Rzepczynski.
- 34 Dave Stewart (19.0 WAR): Dave Stewart's 7-1 mark over Roger Clemens will always be a winner with me, even if Stewart doesn't think Clemens really thought about it.
- 43 Dennis Eckersley (15.9 WAR): Barry Zito's ineligibility opens the door for Dennis Eckersley to hop onto this ticket. Eckersley will promptly close the door, of course.
Perhaps, like some of us, you first became fascinated with the inner workings of the A's through Michael Lewis' Moneyball. In this case, you might consider the top six players with the A's since Billy Beane became the paramount leader of baseball operations in 1998. You get a good mix of four hitters and two pitchers, with Zito excluded:
- POWERBALL 3 Eric Chavez (34.8 WAR): It just feels so unfair that the Eric Chavez era ended the way it did. Billy Beane lauded Chavez in Moneyball, "You could make case that Chavvy is the most naturally gifted player in the game."
- 15 Tim Hudson (31.0 WAR): Huddy was the example for why the playoffs are a crapshoot in Moneyball, "The real problem was that Tim Hudson, heretofore flawless in big games, and perfect against the Minnesota Twins, had two horrendous outings. No one could have predicted that.
- 14 Mark Ellis (26.7 WAR): Ellis has just two listings in the Moneyball index for his rookie season, both during the 20-game win streak. One was Miguel Tejada dropping Ellis' inning-ending double play throw that resulted in the five-run fourth inning of that game. The other was a comment from Beane on Tejada and Ellis covering their lips with their gloves, "I've never known a single lip-reader in baseball. What, has there been a rash of lipreading I don't know about?"
- 16 Jason Giambi (25.1 WAR): I suppose the entire thesis of Moneyball revolved around how to reconstruct Jason Giambi's production in the aggregate given the financial constraints of the Schott-Hoffman regime.
- 4 Miguel Tejada (22.2 WAR): Miggy was "Mr. Swing At Everything" in Moneyball, but he played every game of that 2002 MVP campaign.
I'm a little sad that Scott Hatteberg doesn't make this list, but it's alright. He has another role to play in tonight's drawing:
If you want your own unique ticket, you'll have to think of another way. Because these are my numbers.
But I'm happy to hear what your way is. Unless it's all quick picks. That's boring. Don't tell me about the time you walked into your corner store and asked for five quick picks. There, I just told your story.
Also, tell me what you'd do if you won. Josh Reddick is playing tonight and he says, "I'd have a ballpark built in my hometown strictly just for youth baseball. And I'd buy 51 percent of the WWE and become partners with Vince McMahon."
He'd also still keep playing baseball. Me? I'd probably become AN's self-funded beat writer, even if I have to split this prize by you fools just copying my numbers.
Don't play if you can't afford it. Good luck, everyone.