The Athletics are Good… and Lucky


Even good teams, great teams, championship teams have to rely on Lady Luck to reach their goals.  Every single season is filled with lucky bounces, blown calls, and helpful errors that sway the pendulum in your direction.  The season is simply too long for chance events not to take place, and while things do tend to average out, that little bit of luck can tip the scales just enough for a team.  But as they say, luck benefits the prepared.

What is the point of all this?

Jul 14, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics surround third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) after hitting an RBI single for a walk-off win against the Boston Red Sox at Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics debated the Boston Red Sox 3-2 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics sit 3 games ahead of the Texas Rangers as of this moment, and they are very fortunate to be in this position.  I don’t want this misconstrued as a declaration that any and all success of the A’s is a fluke, but lately they’ve been on the good side of a few strokes of luck.  Let’s face it, the team hasn’t exactly been playing its best baseball over the last few weeks, so something else has to be at play for them to have actually improved their position in the standings.

First and foremost, because it is the most recent memory in our minds, the series that just concluded with the Houston Astros.  It’s safe to say it was an ugly series, and if they had been playing just about any other team in baseball they may very well have been swept.  They committed 6 errors in the first two games, scored 4 runs each game, and somehow by the grace of God only lost the heartbreaking Tuesday game.  We can all thank the very poor Astros bullpen for making that all possible.

Coinciding with the A’s ugly play of late, the Texas Rangers have found themselves in a bit of a slump.  They’ve gone 2 and 4 since the break, and seemingly every time the A’s lose a game the Rangers lose as well.  While losses like the one on Tuesday night hurt, and will hopefully not come back to haunt the A’s in the long run, in the immediate future they sting a little less when the division rival loses as well.  Of course a win in that game would have the A’s 4 games up in the division.

The most glaring example of good fortune though is their MLB best 21-12 record in 1 run games.  Much like the Baltimore Orioles in 2012, the A’s are finding ways to win close games on a consistent basis.  Success like that leaves a lot to chance, and doesn’t appear sustainable in the long run.  While their Pythagorean win-loss record, which weighs run differential to determine a team’s true success, is sitting at 58-43 which is just 1 game off from their actual 59-42 record, the 1 run games loom large.  They can win a number of games by wide margins, and 21 by 1 run and still come out with the +64 run differential they have this season.

The Athletics are without a doubt a good team, potentially a great team if a few key moves are made.  They’ve looked like sure fire World Series contenders at times, and like a fluky fringe playoff team other times.  Billy Beane undoubtedly has a lot of irons in the trade fire right now, and he’ll strike when that iron is hot in order to remove all chance regarding the success of the 2013 Oakland A’s.