MLB MLB PlayoffsOakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics: 5 Stats That Will Win Them The World Series

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Stats To Watch For The Oakland Athletics

Gary A Vasquez - USATODAY Sports

Let’s be honest -- what do you really know about the Oakland Athletics? They play way out west in a stadium titled “O.Co” and don’t have big time superstars that grace ESPN’s headlines on a consistent basis. Their pitching staff is led by a 40-year old who has been suspended for the illegal use of testosterone in 2012. Their franchise is more famous for the creation of a movie than overall success, yet this team just won’t give up. They are a scrappy bunch of players that no team will want to face in a short series.

This offense is better than you think, and their pitching staff keeps them in every single game. The Athletics haven’t won a World Series in my lifetime or in the “Moneyball” era, but can anybody beat this team three times in five games (or four out of seven)? The country as a whole seems to love the Texas Rangers and their flashy offense in a small ballpark, but the Athletics won the division ... again. Don’t shy away from this west coast team just because they don’t look like the team you see a lot of. Hey, remember those 2012 San Francisco Giants who couldn’t hit? Well, they’ve got a nice big ring to remember that campaign, and a similar fate could be awaiting these A’s.

The following slides detail five statistics that have been accumulated all season long and will play a big role in if the Athletics can make an extended run through the month of October.

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5. Park Factor

Kirby Lee - USATODAY Sports

I mentioned that many teams, especially in the American League, rely on elite power, but the A’s have a home ballpark that helps level the playing field. O.Co Coliseum ranks as the fourth most pitcher-friendly stadium (according to ESPN’s Park Factor) when it comes to hits allowed and the second-most pitcher friendly in run/home run rate. While this obviously affects both teams equally, it should serve as a definite advantage for Oakland, as teams like the Tigers and Red Sox aren’t used to such a spacious field. This also allows the Athletics' contact pitchers to have considerably more success than they would on the road, thus giving the Athletics arguably the greatest home-field advantage of all the playoff participants.

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4. Grounding Into Double Plays

Bob Stanton - USATODAY Sports

There are a handful of explosive offenses in the playoffs this season, but the Oakland Athletics are not one of them. They lack a superstar that the general public knows, but they do not beat themselves. Grounding into double plays is the best way to kill a potential rally and suck all the air out of an offense, but the A’s do it less with 107 GIDPs than all but one playoff team. Oakland needs to string numerous hits together in order to produce runs, and their ability to lay down bunts and record “good outs” will go a long ways toward determining how long their postseason run will last.

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3. Extra-Base Hits

Gary A Vasquez - USATODAY Sports

The spacious home field may limit the number of round trippers, but the Athletics know how to take full advantage of the deep dimensions and have done so at an elite level all season long. They rank third in the big leagues (second among playoff teams) in extra base hits, a statistic that will likely surprise the casual fan who will struggle to name a single player on this roster. Their 497 extra base knocks rank ahead of the mighty Tigers, and when you play in a pitcher friendly park, advancing more than one base at a time is a big deal, especially if the homer-dependent opponent is focused on swinging for the fences.

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2. Road Home Run Rate

Gary A Vasquez - USATODAY Sports

Believe it or not, the A’s can compete with the elite offenses when it comes to clearing the bases with one swing of the bat. Their large home ballpark has improved their ability to manufacture runs, but when they play on the road, they are the best playoff team in terms of clearing the fences. In fact, only the Seattle Mariners hit more road homers this season than the Athletics. Oakland also led all of baseball in road slugging percentage, so before you count this team out, consider that they are just as capable at putting up a big number when hitting in an even or hitter-friendly park.

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1. Save Rate

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Let’s not make any bones about it; there is a talent gap between the Athletics and the elite American League teams. That being said, Grant Balfour’s ability to shorten games gives Oakland a better chance to overcome the talent difference and win October ballgames. Balfour has nailed down 56 of his last 59 save opportunities, and while it may not always be pretty (3.29 career ERA), he gets the job done.