Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
When we first started this string of pieces comparing the two teams, it was no contest. The Athletics and Giants were coming off years that were polar opposites. As the calendar flips to June, the Athletics and Giants are the top two teams in MLB. Yes, the Giants have the better record at 36-20, but our Oakland Athletics (34-22) are still the better team.
Many Giants fans will say that the Houston Astros (24-33) pad the A’s record. This is technically true, because the A’s are 5-2 against Houston this season, but they have a better record than the Arizona Diamondbacks (23-35), whom the Giants are 4-3 against. That’s just nitpicking though. Let’s dig deeper.
The Giants did have to deal with the injury to Brandon Belt this month, and have compensated for his absence nicely. Pablo Sandoval was as productive in the first month as Kendrys Morales. In May Sandoval decided to play like he actually wants a contract next season and has been making up for lost time. Kudos.
The A’s lost 2 members of their rotation before the season started, have been having problems closing out games and weren’t getting production from the bottom of their rotation for a month. Somehow they’re still only 2 games behind the Giants for the best record in MLB. I score that one for the Athletics.
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Before you say, “But Matt Cain hasn’t been pitching either…” stop. Cain hasn’t brought a plethora of wins to the table, neigh he’s responsible for one. “The Horse” has barely gotten out of the stable.
The A’s pitching has been fantastic this season, leading the Giants in ERA (2.93), Shut Outs (7), Quality Starts (34), Earned Runs (163), Runs (175) and BAA (.221).
Couple this staff with the bats in the A’s lineup, and you get one lopsided run differential, currently at +112. Brandon Moss has become a feared hitter in 2014, batting .276, with 13 HRs and 46 RBIs. Yoenis Cespedes is feared both at the plate and in left field. Not Michael Morse and his -0.9 dWAR–when can we sub him out kind of fear– but throwing out two runners at home in one inning kind of feared.
Then there’s Josh Donaldson. He is currently tied with Troy Tulowitzki for best all-around player in baseball this season with a 4.6 overall WAR. Last season was no fluke, folks. Which one of our 3rd basemen should be asking for the big contract? Not the chubby one.
Brandon Hicks has found “new life” across the Bay with the Giants. He is beloved by the fans for his 8 HRs, 20 RBI and .181 BA. Believe it or not, the .181 he is hitting now has actually raised his career average. That production should totally last.
I will give the Giants’ bullpen credit. They have a 2.53 ERA as a group, and Jean Machi leads the way with 27 IP and a 0.33 ERA himself. Again, Kudos.
For all of their issues, the A’s bullpen still has just a 2.82 ERA. The problem for them has been the timing of those runs. The assumption is that this will be worked out when Ryan Cook and Eric O’Flaherty join the ‘pen in June. Everyone will return to a spot they’re more comfortable in, and Jim Johnson can just sit there. Problem solved.
The month of June for the Athletics and Giants will be interesting. The A’s upcoming schedule will involve facing seemingly every team that hopes to make the playoffs in 2014, while the Giants don’t really have any tests on the schedule. That is, until July when the Athletics and Giants play a four-game set for bragging rights. The games count in the standings too, but for the fans it’s all about bragging rights.