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Elephant Rumblings: Cancelled games impact A’s chances at a winning season

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Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, Athletics Nation!

As we get deeper into another lockout week (day 97 for those keeping track), the chances of a full 162-game season appear slimmer and slimmer. The last gasp at a traditional season is seemingly today as after a few calls between the two sides, MLB set a new deadline. If negotiations don’t reach an agreement today, say goodbye to 162. (It is worth noting that season length is a bargained condition, so MLB’s deadlines become a bit more toothless as they could agree with the players proposing a full season later this week.)

If an agreement is reached then there aren’t too many problems, as we will get back to the swing of things a little later than usual. But as the lockout persists further there will be more games ruled out from being played. With that near certainty of more cancelled games brings a question of how the balance of the schedule gets affected.

Writing for ESPN, Bradford Doolittle crunched the numbers to see the impact that the cancelled-for-now games have on each team. The Athletics are one of the unlucky teams along with the Marlins and Dodgers to have their first seven home games wiped off the board. For the A’s, this was four games against the Angels, and a three-game set against the Tigers. Playing at home does give an advantage, and to lop off almost a tenth of a team’s home games is going to hurt — especially against two opponents who were sub-.500 last year.

In Doolittle’s simulations of a 2022 season with a 12-team postseason, the A’s have the largest drop in projected win totals in the entire American League. As a team that’s being expected to shed some of its highest-profile players once transactions resume, the Athletics were already projected to come in just above .500 on a full season. With an axing of seven home games, the chances of breaking even on the season grow that much harder.

The next week of games on the chopping block for the A’s are road trips to Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Getting rid of some road games against higher-quality teams may help balance some of the scheduling woes the A’s now face, but it’s not a certainty. The other consideration we will have to keep in mind is that the longer we spend in the lockout and the more games that become mathematically unplayable, the better the chances become of a new balanced schedule being written for whatever remainder of games are left.

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