Projecting the Pace of the Oakland Athletics


We have almost reached the point of no return in Major League Baseball.  The point at which your team is either good, or it isn’t.  Of course there are always exceptions to this rule, the 2012 Oakland Athletics were a perfect example of this, but for the most part the teams that will be in contention for the postseason will have separated themselves from the rest of the pack as we all prepare to embark on the summer ahead.

May 27, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) celebrates with teammates after a two run home run to bat in left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) against the San Francisco Giants during the fourth inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics have now played 55 of the 162 games, and sit comfortable over the .500 mark at 31-24 and are just 3 games behind the division leading Texas Rangers.  On this date in 2012, the Athletics were 22-29 and were in the midst of an 8 game losing streak, so life is much better in 2013.  But again, what the Athletics did last year was truly remarkable, and is far from a common feat.  The A’s were on pace for just 69 wins at this point last year, this year though they are on a much better pace, projected for 93 wins at their current rate.  The art of projecting the pace of a MLB season is far from accurate, in fact it’s an almost foolish practice because of the many factors that can change everything for a team at a moment’s notice.  That said, it’s fun to think about where the team and the players might end up.

For the purpose of these projections, I’ll stick to the accumulated stats like home runs and RBI rather than the rates like batting average and on base percentage since they can be projected out over the course of the season more clearly.  These stats reflect the team numbers through the first 54 games, exactly 1/3 of the season.

As a team the Athletics are hitting for much less power than they did in 2012, with 53 home runs so far, that puts them on a pace for 159 on the season, down from the 195 they hit in 2012.  Their doubles rate though has increased drastically, with 116 already and on pace for a whopping 348 doubles as a team, they hit 267 in 2012.  The value of the double as a means of putting up crooked numbers, and also keeping the rally going, has put the A’s in good position.  The runs being scored support that notion, they’ve scored 260 runs so far, putting them on pace for 780 compared to 713 last year.  Perhaps less power means more quality at bats, which means the team is scoring more runs, and therefore winning more games.

As for the players on an individual basis, the one who stands out the most of course is Josh Donaldson.  He has a team high 65 hits, 18 doubles, 8 home runs, has scored 30 runs and has 33 RBI.  Those numbers project out to 195 hits, 54 doubles, 24 home runs, 90 runs scored, and 99 RBI.  Stats like that would certainly exceed just about any reasonable fan’s expectations for him in 2013.  He may not be able to maintain his current pace, but numbers like this are not at all out of the realm of possibility.

While Donaldson stands out above the rest, how about the rest of the everyday lineup?

  • Jed Lowrie – Current: 57 hits, 16 doubles, 3 home runs, 22 runs, 23 RBI  Projected: 171 hits, 48 doubles, 9 home runs, 66 runs, 69 RBI
  • Coco Crisp – Current: 39 hits, 12 doubles, 5 home runs, 34 runs, 18 RBI, 10 SB  Projected: 117 hits, 36 doubles, 15 home runs, 102 runs, 54 RBI, 30 SB (Expect the hit total to be higher perhaps if he can stay healthy)
  • Yoenis Cespedes – Current: 35 hits, 7 doubles, 9 home runs, 26 runs, 27 RBI  Projected: 105 hits, 21 doubles, 27 home runs, 78 runs, 81 RBI
  • Brandon Moss – Current: 37 hits, 4 doubles, 7 home runs, 24 runs, 26 RBI  Projected: 111 hits, 12 doubles, 21 home runs, 72 runs, 78 RBI
  • Seth Smith – Current: 48 hits, 14 doubles, 5 home runs, 26 runs, 24 RBI  Projected: 144 hits, 42 doubles, 15 home runs, 78 runs, 72 RBI

The likes of Josh Reddick are a bit more difficult to project considering the extended period of time he’s missed, the chances that he’d end 2013 with 3 home runs are rather slim.  John Jaso and Derek Norris are also difficult to project because of the platoon situation they find themselves in, same goes for Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales.  The core of the offense though is on pace for a very solid season, improving upon many numbers from 2012.  If Josh Reddick can get hot once again, it’ll just add fuel to the offensive firepower the Athletics can achieve.  It’s a long season, and anything can happen, but the A’s have set themselves up to have some very impressive seasons as a team and individually in the first third of 2013.