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Over the course of the past week, Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper have been talking about the Athletics’ run differential. What is this you ask? It is a simple measurement of how many runs a team scores against how many runs a team gives up. By subtracting the runs allowed from the runs scored, you get a number, and this is your run differential. To date, the Athletics have scored 235 runs and given up 140. Their run differential sits at an astounding +95 through 44 games. The Detroit Tigers rank second with a +55.
Why is the Athletics’ run differential, or the stat in general significant? It is a way to measure how good a team is. Generally the good teams will have a large run differential, though there are times when this is not the case. In 2012, the Baltimore Orioles made the playoffs as a Wild Card with just a +7. This was due to winning a lot of one-run games throughout the course of the season.
This number also grows if you have one dominant facet of your team. If the team doesn’t allow a lot of runs, that number stays down. If they clobber their opponents in their wins, that’s another factor.
So now we’re all caught up on why this statistic is important and how it works. Let’s focus on the Oakland Athletics and why it’s important for them.
Since 2002, the highest run differential in a season has been +210, achieved by both the 2007 Red Sox and the 2011 Yankees. The A’s are on pace to have a +365 by season’s end, which is unheard of. There is almost no way this will happen, unless the Athletics’ pitching is as lights out as it has been, and their offense keeps pouring on runs at this pace.
With the Athletics’ run differential, it’s telling because their runs scored ranks 2nd in MLB, while their runs allowed ranks 3rd. This combination is what makes a team a contender. Being able to hold your opponent’s scoring down, while being able to nearly score at-will yourself makes this Oakland Athletics team scary late in the season if they can keep this up.
As always, it’s still early, and statistics get inflated. There is reason to believe that what the Athletics are showing will not be an anomaly from an early-season burst. The Athletics actually have room to improve, and they have been. The bottom part of the rotation wasn’t performing well, so they made a change. Drew Pomeranz has been fantastic in 2 starts.
The A’s bullpen has been scuffling, and quite honestly the weak-spot of the team. Yes, the weak spot that is actually tops in the AL in ERA at 2.90, ranking them 5th in baseball. That’s the weak spot of this team. What I’m saying is this team is built incredibly well, and the bullpen even has tons of room for improvement. They are stacked with veteran arms, and at some point this season they will find their grove and improve upon their 10-8 record.
So again, why is the Athletics’ run differential important? It’s just another statistic showing that this team is ready to go deeper into the playoffs.