Wednesday, September 29, 2004

5 Games to Go : Why are the A's struggling ?

The A's have always managed to continue winning based on their starting pitching. With the vaunted "Big 3" of Hudson, Zito, and Mulder, the A's have battled their way to to the post-season for the past 4 years in a row. Historically, the A's have shined post-AllStar break with a big surge to the playoffs.

Sadly, the A's seem to have faltered just steps from the finish line this season. With 5 games left, the Angels have tied with the A's for first place in the AL West. What has gone wrong ?

As the A's have won with their pitching, they have been losing with their pitching as well. Hudson, Zito, and Mulder are all having off years compared to their career numbers. Particularly when looking at their September numbers :

Combined numbers for September 2000-2003
Zito - ERA 2.28 / WHIP 1.11
Hudson - ERA 2.75 / WHIP 1.18
Mulder - ERA 2.73 / WHIP 1.08

Now let's break them down by each season :

September 2000
Zito - ERA 1.73 / WHIP 1.06
Hudson - ERA 1.39 / WHIP 0.88
Mulder - ERA 3.44 / WHIP 1.47

September 2001
Zito - ERA 1.89 / WHIP 1.24
Hudson - ERA 3.76 / WHIP 1.33
Mulder - ERA 2.79 / WHIP 1.05

September 2002
Zito - ERA 2.33 / WHIP 1.11
Hudson - ERA 1.69 / WHIP 1.07
Mulder - ERA 2.40 / WHIP 0.96

September 2003
Zito - ERA 3.18 / WHIP 1.03
Hudson - ERA 4.18 / WHIP 1.58
Mulder - injured

September 2004 (to date)
Zito - ERA 4.54 / WHIP 1.27
Hudson - ERA 6.23 / WHIP 1.62
Mulder - ERA 8.10 / WHIP 2.03

Just looking at this season's September numbers makes me cringe. With numbers like this, it is a wonder we haven't actually lost MORE games than we have.

Also take a look at the numbers for every previous September, including their cumulative stats and the difference is even more startling.

If the A's Big 3 can not get it together immediately, they may not make the playoffs. Even if they do, it is doubtful they will make it very far into the post-season.

C'mon guys, get it together, IT IS CRUNCH TIME !!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Just how good is Scott Hatteberg ?

Scott Hatteberg is easily one of the most underrated players in major league baseball. A former catcher for the Red Sox, an arm injury finished his career as a catcher and the Red Sox let him go. As famously chronicled in the book Moneyball, Billy Beane had the A's acquire Hatteberg - as a first basemen, a position he had never played in major league ball.

Ever since acquiring Hatteberg, most sports writers and analysts wrote the A's decision off : trying to turn a career catcher into a first basemen ? After the A's extended Scott Hatteberg's contract, many pundits - including myself - came to the conclusion that the A's were crazy. We all said Scott Hatteberg could not hit and was, at best, a very average first baseman.

Well, my friends, Scott Hatteberg has made me eat crow. I said he couldn't hit, was an average fielder, and not much of a slugger. Boy have we been proven wrong. Once again, Billy Beane has made a smart acquisition. Behold the numbers for Scott Hatteberg :

Offensive Stats:
15 HR / 81 RBI
BA- 0.299 - 1st in the league
OBP - 0.384 - 1st in the league
BB - 68 - 2nd in the league
Doubles - 29 - 3rd in the league
BB/Plate Appearance - 0.114 - 5th in the league
BB/K ratio - 1.55 - 2nd in the league
RC (Runs Created) - 89.2 - 4th in the league
RC/27 (Runs Created per 27 outs) - 6.36 - 5th in the league

Defensive Stats:
Put Outs - 1195 - 1st in the league
Double Plays - 127 - 2nd in the league
Assists - 80 - 4th in the league

And Hatteberg still ranks in the top 10 for the following categories :
SLG - 7th
OPS - 6th
Isolated Power - 8th
Fielding Percentage - 9th
RBI - 6th

The only truly horrendous stat I could find is errors - Hatteberg ranks 2nd in most errors by a first baseman, which is not something to be proud of. But his rankings in all the other stats makes up for this loss.

Hatteberg is having a career year in 2004, yet he barely registers on most people's radars.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

A's meltdown to Boston

I know a lot of A's fans will be disappointed with this post, but there is no getting around it : for some reason, the Boston Red Sox just OWN us this year. Want proof ? Here you go :

A's Pitching Stats vs. Boston for the 2004 season:
Tim Hudson - 15.43 ERA / 3.43 WHIP / 0.588 OSLG / 0.441 OBA / 11.57 BB/9 / 19.29 H/9
Arthur Rhodes - 13.50 ERA / 3.50 WHIP / 0.556 OSLG / 0.444 OBA / 13.50 BB/9 / 18.00 H/9
Rich Harden - 12.60 ERA / 2.60 WHIP / 0.750 OSLG / 0.350 OBA / 10.80 BB/9 / 12.60 H/9
Chad Bradford - 11.57 ERA / 2.57 WHIP / 0.667 OSLG / 0.417 OBA / 3.86 BB/9 / 19.29 H/9
Mark Redman - 10.93 ERA / 2.36 WHIP / 0.700 OSLG / 0.371 OBA / 4.50 BB/9 / 16.71 H/9
Justin Lehr - 10.38 ERA / 2.08 WHIP / 0.500 OSLG / 0.364 OBA / 2.08 BB/9 / 16.62 H/9
Barry Zito - 8.71 ERA / 2.03 WHIP / 0.574 OSLG / 0.319 OBA / 5.23 BB/9 / 13.06 H/9
Chris Hammond - 7.20 ERA / 1.80 WHIP / 0.619 OSLG / 0.381 OBA / 1.80 BB/9 / 14.40 H/9
Ricardo Rincon - 5.79 ERA / 1.93 WHIP / 0.500 OSLG / 0.318 OBA / 3.86 BB/9 / 13.50 H/9
Mark Mulder - 3.18 ERA / 1.94 WHIP / 0.238 OSLG / 0.190 OBA / 11.12 BB/9 / 6.35 H/9
Justin Duchscherer - 2.61 ERA / 0.77 WHIP / 0.306 OSLG / 0.194 OBA / 0.87 BB/9 / 6.10 H/9

Key : ERA-Earned Run Average, WHIP-Walks+Hits per Inning Pitched, OSLG-Opponents SLG, OBA-Opponents BA, BB/9-Walks per 9 innings, H/9-Hits per 9 innings.

These numbers are so awful they make me shudder. Out of our starters (Hudson, Harden, Zito, Mulder, Redman) only Mulder had a decent ERA against Boston, but then look at his ugly 1.93 WHIP and 11.12 BB/9 and you can see where he had trouble too.

With our pitchers walking the Red Sox around the bases and allowing too many extra base hits, it is obvious how the Red Sox dominated our pitching this season.

The only other 2 pitcherson the A's staff to face Boston this season are Dotel and Mecir, both of who have a combined 0.00 ERA with 7 innings pitched.

I think Boston this season has somehow gotten into the A's heads. It must be mental, because as anyone can see from looking at the A's normal season stats, the above is not a fair representation of their pitching stats. In fact, there is not another team in the majors that we pitched worse against this season.

I can only hope that whatever is messing with Oakland's mind when they face Boston will disappear when/if they face Boston in the post season.

Lets go A's, sweep Cleveland and stay on top of the AL West !!!

Friday, September 03, 2004

Dan Johnson named PCL MVP

While he doesn't have the highest numbers in any category, he finished in the top 10 for 5 offensive categories.

I fully expect Dan Johnson to be with the A's next season.

Also, Nick Swisher of Moneyball fame apparently has been called up to the A's roster for the remainder of this season. I'm a big fan and very excited to see what he can do for the A's.

UPDATE : So far Nick Swisher has a 0.200 BA / 0.368 OBP / 0.467 SLG in 15 at bats with the A's.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

September Call Ups

A's Y'all has an interesting post on possible September call ups from the A's minor league system. He predicts that Esteban German - who was with the A's at the beginning of this season and got some playing time when Chavez was injured - will almost assuredly get called up. He also predicts Jairo Garcia, Nick Swisher, and Mike Rivera will be called up.

German is no surprise, he played in 21 games this year and had 52 at bats. As a rookie, not playing everyday, with a limited 52 at bats, his numbers weren't half bad :

0.231 BA / 0.273 OBP / 0.288 SLG / 0 HR / 6 RBI / 1 triple / 1 double

The numbers aren't too impressive, but again with such a small number of at bats it is hard to tell how good or bad a player is offensively. One thing to note : he had a 0.966 fielding percentage at 3B and a 1.00 fielding percentage at 2B.

But to get a better idea of what kind of player German is, let's look at his Minor League numbers. Currently for the season at AAA-Sacramento, German is having a great season :

Sacramento Rivercats 2004:
0.329 BA / 0.380 OBP / 0.424 SLG / 0.804 OPS / 2 HR / 29 RBI / 19 BB / 28 SO / 18 SB / 2 CS / 90% successfully Steal Rate

His HR and RBI count is low, but that is because of his 231 at bats with the Rivercats, thanks to beginning the season with Oakland instead of Sacramento. German can run like the wind and has a nice stolen base total to go with his successful steal rate. He can hit for average, but tends to strike out a bit too much. He has a career minor league BA of 0.295 and 328 stolen bases with a successful steal rate of 94%.

I've watched German play and he is one fast runner. I have seen him hit routine ground balls that turned into hits because the opposing team simply couldn't beat him to the bag. However, I know how Billy Beane and the organization feel about base stealing : they simply don't go for it. It will be interesting to see how they play German during September and the playoffs. If German performs well, then I expect to see him on the bench with Scutaro come 2005 as both of them can fill in at any of the infield positions.

UPDATE : Almost immediately after posting this, German indeed has been called back up to the A's roster.