Monday, November 10, 2008

2008 - Oakland A's

Exam's done and election's over - time to get back to the baseball. I was planning to look at each team's 2008 season and couldn't decide which order to go in. Today's news took care of the first team for me...

The Athletics acquired Matt Holliday from Colorado, and so we'll start with the A's.

Record: 75-86
Pythagorean Record: 76-85
Third Order Standings (from BPro): 77-84
My Prediction: 77-85
Over/Under: Over 73.5 - Correct

After trading Dan Haren and Nick Swisher, the A's were supposed to be pretty bad. They showed everybody by getting off to a good start. Rich Harden (who was traded himself at the deadline) was fantastic (2.34 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 6.7 H/9, 2.85 tRA and 141 tRA+) when he was healthy; Justin Duchscherer made a nice transition to the rotation (2.54 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 6.8 H/9, 3.90 tRA and 120 tRA+)and made the All-Star team; and new lefties Greg Smith (4.16 ERA, 5.34 tRA) and Dana Eveland (4.34 ERA, 5.33 tRA) provided pleasant surprises at the back-end of the rotation. Submarining righty Brad Zeigler came out of nowhere to set a new record for consecutive scoreless innings to start a career and ended up the team's closer (with a 1.06 ERA, 3.77 tRA, and a 63% groundball rate), but it was actually Joey Devine (who came over from Atlanta for Mark Kotsay) that was the pen's best reliever (0.59 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 4.5 H/9, 1.93 tRA, 157 tRA+).

The pitching-staff overall was pretty good (4.01 ERA, 4.88 tRA) - it was the offense that caused the team to fall out of contention. The team couldn't hit (.242 BA - last in the AL), couldn't walk (.318 OBP - 13th out of 14), and couldn't hit for power (.369 SLG - last). In the earlier parts of the season the team still managed to put runs on the board, but it wasn't sustainable. Jack Cust continued his amazing three-true-outcomes performance (33 HR, 111 BB, 197 K) but the rest of the line-up was filled with hitters who were OK at best. In fact, Cust was the only guy who played even half the season with a SLG over .400.

Though they only pushed the Angels for a little while, it was solid season on the way back up for the A's. It certainly helps them that Mark Ellis and his golden glove (unfortunately still lower-case) will be sticking around for a couple more years at dirt cheap prices ($11 MM total, which he should be getting yearly). Lots of depth kept them afloat in 2008, and it should serve them well in 2009.

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