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The Dominance of Oakland


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This may be the best team Oakland has put together since 1990. I'm not joking. The team would have to sustain these numbers of course and there's no telling if they will or not... but approaching the 1/2 mark of the season they look absurdly good.

First off, run differential. Here's how the AL looks:

130 Oakland

35 Toronto

31 Los Angeles

29 Seattle

2 Detroit

-1 Baltimore

-6 Cleveland

-8 Kansas City

-11 Chicago

-16 Minnesota

-25 Boston

-28 New York

-37 Houston

-38 Texas

-52 Tampa

That's right, only five teams in the AL have a positive run differential and #2 is nearly 100 runs worse than Oakland (BTW notice the Orioles are 6th now).

Let's put it another way. Oakland is now 40-26 on the year for a very good .606 win%. But according to their run differential they're underperforming. Their Pythagorean W-L is a staggering 47-19 (.712)! That would project to 115 wins on the year. How do they do it?

Oakland has scored more runs through 66 games than anyone in baseball (336). They are the only team scoring over five runs a game. They're doing it the way you'd imagine: they're first in the AL in OBP, second in home runs and last in caught stealing. Oakland could easily send five starters to the All Star Game (C Derek Norris, 1B Brandon Moss, 3B Josh Donaldson, LF Yoenis Cespedes, CF Coco Crisp). So there's that.

But Oakland has also allowed less runs than anyone in baseball (206). Second place is a tie between two National League teams, Washington and Atlanta (223). Look at this list of runs allowed/game in the AL (day old):

1) Oakland 3.16

2) Seattle 3.64

3) Kansas City 4.12

...no need to continue. They're a run better than 3rd place. The AL average is 4.31 and only six teams are better because Oakland skews the numbers.

You can also put it this way: Oakland has a team ERA+ of 132. That's including ballpark and environment. The whole team. In fact there are only two pitchers -- Dan Straily and Jim Johnson -- with ANY playing time and an ERA+ under 100. They are first in wins, flat ERA, innings pitched, runs, earned runs, and home runs allowed and second in hits allowed. Their entire team has a H/9 of 7.5. How many pitchers on say, Baltimore can boast that? Four. For Oakland it's their team average.

Again I know things can change but I wanted to point out just how good the Athletics have been the first half of the season. As things stand, this is the best baseball team that Moneyball has ever produced.

Thanks to CBSSports and Baseball Reference for providing the stats.

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You can also put it this way: Oakland has a team ERA+ of 132. That's including ballpark and environment. The whole team. In fact there are only two pitchers -- Dan Straily and Jim Johnson -- with ANY playing time and an ERA+ under 100.

The recently deceased Bob Welch won the 1988 Cy Young award with an ERA+ of 125. Doug Drabek, Pete Vuckovich, LaMarr Hoyt... all Cy Young winners with ERA+es worse than Oakland's entire staff.

Also, the 1984 Tigers, who famously began the year 35-5, were 44-15 on June 12th. On that date they had a run differential of +112.

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