The Oakland Coliseum has been the most extreme pitcher’s park in baseball this year. Both the A’s and their opponents are struggling to make anything happen in its cavernous expanses, especially in terms of hitting homers, and nobody has been able to consistently score there. Well, almost nobody.
One team is having a field day on Rickey Henderson Field, and that’s the reigning champion Astros. Not only are they finding success in Oakland, they’re actually hitting better there than anywhere else.
First, the raw numbers. The A’s and Astros have played nine games so far in 2018, with six coming at the Coliseum. All six were victories for Houston. The results:
- Astros 16, A’s 3
- Astros 4, A’s 2
- Astros 4, A’s 1
- Astros 6, A’s 3
- Astros 13, A’s 5
- Astros 7, A’s 3
The 16- and 13-run efforts are the highest-scoring days for anyone at the stadium this year, home team included. Overall, Oakland has played 37 games in the Coliseum and allowed 148 runs, and the Astros have accounted for over one-third of that total in just six contests. Every other visiting opponent is averaging 3.16 runs per game. Here’s another way of looking at it:
- The average Astros game in the Coliseum is about an 8-3 loss for the A’s.
- The average non-Astros game in the Coliseum is about a 4-3 win for the A’s.
Remove the Astros from the equation, and the A’s are 18-13 at home while outscoring the competition 113-98. All of those losses count in the standings, of course, but if you’re looking for optimism then it’s worth knowing that Oakland is pretty good at home against everyone except the ultra-stacked defending champs. (The A’s managed to win one game on the road in Houston, but were outscored 20-12 in the full three-game series there. They’re 15-14 in every other visiting park.)
Where are all the Astros’ runs coming from? They’re simply destroying the ball in Oakland.
- HOU: 1.021 OPS (.351/.415/.606)
- LAA: .764
- TBR: .680
- CHW: .671
- OAK: .652
Their 12 dingers in Oakland are more than any other two opponents combined, and they’re homering at twice the pace of the home team. Houston’s next-favorite destinations include Chicago (.945) and Cleveland (.865), but they aren’t lighting up any park like they are the Coliseum.
Leading the charge is ... basically everyone, with five regular players sporting four-digit OPS marks (Gattis, Springer, Stassi, Gonzalez, Correa) and two more around .900 (Gurriel, Altuve). If you’ve got to pick one name then it would be hulking DH Evan Gattis, with three long balls, 10 RBI, and a 1.214 OPS in 22 plate appearances. Looking at his career overall, he’s played 54 games against the A’s (both home and away) and boasts totals of 16 homers and 50 RBI, both his most against any opponent.
What does all this mean? Not necessarily anything long-term except that the Astros are great at hitting, which won’t come as news to anyone. It’s mostly just a statistical curiosity to point out and marvel/cringe at. Whether the Coliseum’s run-suppressing 2018 park factors are based on some unsustainable factor (weird weather?) or are a complete small-sample fluke, they surely won’t continue at this extreme level long-term. Someone else will eventually begin scoring here again, hopefully the green and gold themselves.
In the meantime, though, it’s all Astros in this stadium. The Rockets should probably ask them for tips about keeping their offense consistent against an Oakland-based team. Nailed it.
The A’s still have nine more games against the Astros this year, but most of them will come in Houston where at least our boys might muster some runs too. Gattis & Company won’t return to Oakland until August 17, for three final games. Good riddance.