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Elephant Rumblings: Where the A’s sit in power rankings, projections, and predictions for Opening Day

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MLB: APR 04 Astros at Athletics

Happy Tuesday, Athletics Nation!

Today marks the end of spring training for the A’s. They play their last game of the spring against the Giants this afternoon, then head out to Philadelphia for Opening Day on Friday.

As we are quickly approaching the start of the 2022 season, it is worth taking a look at where the Athletics rank in the esteem of the baseball world. Plenty of publications have put out their initial power rankings and pre-season predictions, so let’s dive in to see where the A’s sit.

First, a look at the power rankings. Most major sports publications put out their weekly rankings of all teams, to help understand the narratives of the season while giving a quick glance at who’s hot and who’s not. Likely not surprising to the Athletics Nation faithful, the A’s are widely considered to be not as we start the 2022 season.

Here’s where the A’s sit on Monday’s power rankings (end of 2021 rankings included in brackets):

Aside from BR’s ranking that has some leftover confidence from the end of last season, power rankers pin the Athletics as a bottom-tier team. For the blurbs that the A’s got, most focused on the spring salary slashing sell-off and how it has left the roster looking a lot more destitute than when the A’s were last ranked.

At the end of 2021 the Athletics were considered to be at or near the top half of teams, even as their playoff chances faded. The few positives granted to the A’s focus on the strengths of remaining names Sean Murphy and Frankie Montas, as well as expressing hopefulness for the bevy of near-MLB-ready prospects obtained over the last month.

Next, lets take a look at what the analytic-minded publications have projected for the A’s. We’ll dive into a few sources, but rather than ordered editorial lists, these are more along the lines of algorithmically driven measures and expectations for teams.

Various pre-season projections and predictions (system explanations provided in brackets):

W/L record - W/L percentage - projected rank - playoff chance %

  • PECOTA (Baseball Prospectus) - 64-98 - .395 - 29/30 - 0.2% (PECOTA is projected based off previous player performance and comparable historical players.)
  • FanGraphs - 70-92 - .430 - 27/30 - 1.0% (FanGraphs uses a blend of two proprietary projection systems called Steamer and ZiPS, then inputs those projections into a simulation that is run 20,000 times, providing these results)
  • The Sporting News - 64-98 - 395 - 30/30 - 0.1% (A new projection system for this year, derived from previous player performance and park factors over 20,000 simulations)
  • ESPN - 68-94 - .419 - 28/30 - 2.1% (ESPN does not detail its projection system, projections were given along with power rankings)
  • USA Today - 70-92 - .430 - 26/30 (tie) - n/a (USA Todays projections are based off a panel of their writers, which I assume to mean these are simply the whims of Bob Nightengale)

Again, none of these figures are too shocking to A’s fans that have been paying attention. There is a bit more variation between specific figures, especially win/loss records. Previous years have shown that PECOTA and FanGraphs’ pythagorean system tend to underrate the A’s way of playing by a few wins on an up year, but also have been loftier than the A’s results in a down year. The last time the A’s tore down heading into 2015, they were still projected for a 77-85 record but turned in a 68-win season instead.

While these figures don’t offer any big surprise, they do serve as the benchmark of expectations for the year. We can look back to the preseason’s power ranks and projections in the coming weeks and months and see how the Athletics surprise us. Whether it’s a run to a high-70s win total out of nowhere, or a disappointing 100+ losses, we will simply have to watch the season to see how it shakes out.

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Happy Birthday Ray, we miss you.

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