Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Excerpt: "Third Third Previews, Part III"

"Oakland A's (13): It was pretty easy to figure out why the A's were winning last year: they hit a ton of homers. This year's team doesn't have that signature, and most of the guys who drove that team to a division title aren't repeating their success. Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes haven't hit, while Brandon Moss and Seth Smith have been just OK. The pitching isn't as good as it was a year ago, but the A's staff has done a good job of avoiding walks -- tops in the AL -- and letting the best defense in baseball go to work. It looks a bit like the post-Moneyball A's teams that got away from OBP and emphasized defense.The A's outfield defense is excellent; despite the highest flyball rate in the AL, they've allowed the second fewest doubles-plus-triples (179, bested only by the Royals). Have they been a bit lucky? Neither Jed Lowrie nor Coco Crisp has been hurt this year, and they've used just six starters, with no one missing a start other than, if you can believe it, Brett Anderson. We've seen this again and again: a stable rotation has value even if it's not great, simply by keeping a team from digging into its seventh, eighth and deeper starters. I'd have said the Rangers would catch the A's, but with Nelson Cruz out for the season it's a different story. This will be a good race."