By Doug Upstone of Doc’s Sports
Just the other day we got an email about somebody wondering what we thought about the Oakland A’s winning the World Series. We liked the question and the person was in favor of making such a wager against the betting odds. That prompted a response from this writer and instead of a simple “yes or no” answer, the research was done and this is the longer version of what we said.
Oakland has been one of the best teams in baseball for the past four years. The Athletics won 97 games in 2018-19 and last year’s projected win total was 97 wins again based on a full season.
Thus far in 2021, as of June 24th, based on their record, they would win 96 times. Excellence for certain.
Yet, as we know, in all sports, the postseason is different from the regular season. This is where Oakland has come up short and is likely to again.
Oakland’s Built for the Long Haul, not Series by Series
Manager Bob Melvin and the front office do a great job in maximizing limited revenue streams while producing records almost every franchise in baseball would love to have.
Only Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers have records that have been that consistent. But here is the problem, they don’t have elite pitchers for starters.
A check of the Oakland depth chart for starting pitchers has it this way.
1) Frankie Montas
2) Chris Bassitt
3) Sean Manaea
4) Cole Irvin
5) James Kaprielian
No question the top three are all solid pitchers who for the most part give their team a chance to win in at least 70 percent of their starts.
When you start comparing Montas and Bassitt in particular, they don’t match up well with many of the top twosomes who have or will make the playoffs.
The true World Series contenders have that 1-2 punch that gives them a great opportunity to win every time they are called upon in the postseason. That has been a large missing element for the Athletics during this run and because they don’t have the resources to go out and trade or do a – rent a player – trade to go all in, they come up short.
The bullpen also lacks the intimidation factor. While most top teams have three to five flamethrowers out in the pen, Oakland has hurlers that get guys out but are not overwhelming. When there is a runner on third and less than two outs, managers want a strikeout. Too often, the A’s get an out, however, it is a sacrifice fly or ground out, which allows that run to score which could be the difference in the outcome.
Oakland Offense Can Be Contained
Oakland has been among the leaders in home runs for years and is still averaging about 1.3 long balls a game, the same as they have. With the A’s, if an opposing pitcher can work around Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, there might be a few other sluggers, but they have holes in their swings, and with the added playoff pressure, they have not come through.
This has all led to postseason failures and opposing teams know it.
In looking at several of the top sportsbooks, though Oakland may well win 95 or more games, they are listed either 8th or 9th by the oddsmakers to take the Fall Classic. Their past failures certainly play into their thinking and there have not been many upgrades to the roster.
That’s why we say to save your money for the MLB expert picks and pass on the A’s even if the value is tempting. This a top-notch regular-season squad that fizzles in the playoffs.
Doug Upstone of Doc's Sports has been involved in sports handicapping in some form or another his entire adult life. NOBODY watches and studies games more than he does. Whether it is live or going back and watching later, Doug has game notes and observations dating back two decades. (Yes, somehow he's still married to his original wife). Doug is a process person, meaning he's developed his own power ratings in different sports to determine if the lines are accurate from his perspective, yet, always follows the fundamentals when handicapping games.