I recently started a series of articles about pennant races, surprises and other items of interest at the quarter point of the 2014 MLB season. Previously, I discussed the AL East pennant race and the surprising Baltimore Orioles. Here, I’ll take a look at Billy Beane‘s Oakland Athletics.
The A’s are currently in first place with a 25-15 record. Even in the relatively small market of Oakland, Beane and his moneyball methods have made the A’s into perennial contenders. The A’s have one of the lowest player payrolls in all of baseball at $75 million. This compares to $154 million for the Boston Red Sox, $209 million for the New York Yankees and $239 million for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Interestingly, the A’s are winning with well-known moneyball concepts. Although no player besides catcher Derek Norris is batting above .267, the A’s lead the American League in on-base percentage. Most of Oakland’s batters are on a pace to reach about fifty bases on balls this season, with several on a 75-walk pace.
The A’s also have decent power, with two players on target for about 30 home runs this year. The combination of getting on base and power has the A’s leading the league in runs scored.
In addition, the A’s have been getting great starting pitching led by Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez and a rejuvenated Scott Kazmir. These three starting pitchers have combined for a 12-3 win-loss record, 2.30 ERA and 1.00 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched).
The A’s are looking for their third consecutive year of 90-plus wins. The numbers show that the quarter mark of the baseball season starts to have mathematical significance. In addition, the A’s have actually underperformed their Pythagorean projections so that Oakland has been slightly unlucky in achieving a .625 winning percentage! It’s a long season, but Billy Beane and moneyball concepts are proven commodities.