Welp, we started this month with five wins in a row and we’ve since lost back-to-back plays. I wanted to write-up the A’s game yesterday when they were underdogs but they offer nearly as much value tonight as a pick.
The A’s 61–26 record since June 16 is the best in the Majors, even better than Boston’s 57–25 mark that began a couple of days after. Of course, the Red Sox were equally as hot to begin the season so they’ve got eleven more wins than Oakland does but that’s ancient history. The A’s will more than likely enter the postseason as the hottest team and it’s not as if it’s just been for a few weeks.
I’ve written up a ton of A’s games because I’ve been betting a ton of A’s games but if you’re one of the many people that don’t understand quite why Oakland is a real threat to win the World Series, let me give you a cursory rundown.
It’s a roster mixed beautifully with youth and veterans, not overpaid star veterans but guys who are (or at least were) by and large under-appreciated around the league, guys like Jed Lowrie, who’s put up a 121 OPS+ in a fully healthy season, and Brett Anderson, tonight’s starter who has a WHIP around 1.20 in fifteen starts. Fans laughed when the A’s gave Edwin Jackson another chance in the big leagues but he’s going to start playoff games, if Oakland advances.
That rotation isn’t star-studded but Oakland has plenty of capable arms attached to a body containing a brain that understands what it means to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues. Jackson, Anderson, Mike Fiers and Trevor Cahill won’t give you eight innings, seven, or even six but they pitch with a savvy that will give them the edge against many of their upcoming postseason opponents.
Manager Bob Melvin doesn’t even want them to go deep into games because he has the best and deepest bullpen in the league, anchored by Blake Treinen and his 515 ERA+. He gives up about a run a month. Before Treinen, the depth is impressive: Lou Trivino, Jeurys Familia, Yusmiero Petit, Ryan Kelley, Fernando Rodney, like the rest of the roster, is a harmonious mix of young up-and-comers and recycled veterans.
An individual worth highlighting is catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Offensively, he’s the only regular that gets on base and slugs below league average. It hasn’t always been that way for him; in five seasons from 2012 to 2016, he was one of the best offensive catchers in the league with an average OPS+ around 120 and made two all-star teams but he’s older now.
What makes Lucroy so valuable is his experience and his attitude. He doesn’t hit like Gary Sanchez but nobody cares more about his pitching staff and the job he’s doing behind the plate every day than he and that attitude becomes contagious when it’s embodied by a veteran catcher with the leadership qualities Lucroy has. He’s totally going to turn back the clock and get a few big hits in the postseason, too.
I believe Oakland is the best team in baseball and it still isn’t too late for them to make up two games on the Yankees and win home-field advantage in the all-important American League wild card game. The fact that they’re just a pick’em against a listless Seattle team tonight is a joke.
Play: Oakland (PK)