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How successful will “Moneyball” be in 2013?
- Updated: December 24, 2012
What the Oakland Athletics did in 2012 was simply remarkable. No, the word ‘remarkable’ does not do that team justice. Outstanding. Astonishing. Amazing. There is not one word, nor a group of words that can sum up exactly what the team of so-called ‘Moneyballers’ did last year.
In a division filled with superstars like Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and more, Oakland was able to defy all odds and capture the 2012 AL West title. A’s GM Billy Beane was somehow able to do the unthinkable; construct a playoff team with a $55MM payroll. For comparison purposes, the Angels missed out on the playoffs after spending a combined $56MM on three players (OF Vernon Wells, OF Torii Hunter, SP Jered Weaver). The Texas Rangers spent $55.8MM on four players (UTIL Michael Young, OF Josh Hamilton, 3B/DH Adrian Beltre, 1B/C/DH Mike Napoli). Last but not least we have the Seattle Mariners, who spent $47.2MM on three players (SP Felix Hernandez, OF Ichiro Suzuki, 3B/UTIL Chone Figgins).
It is just unheard of nowadays for a team to be 31st in payroll and not only contend for, but win a division title. You have to keep in mind that this isn’t just any ordinary division. This a division filled with bucket-loads of talent. In fact, the AL West provided more players (eleven) to the All-Star game roster than any other division in the league. The A’s only provided one of those eleven (closer Ryan Cook.)
Sure the A’s had a magical 2012 season, but was it a fluke, or will history repeat itself in 2013?
The Oakland Athletics took pride in having a team ERA of 3.48- sixth in the MLB.
With a rotation composed of four rookies- Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, Dan Straily, and A.J. Griffin, the A’s did not really have what you would call a true ace. The #1 starter for Oakland in 2012 was left-hander Brett Anderson. One could make an argument that Anderson is a top-of-the-rotation starter, but no arguments could be made stating that he is a true “ace”.
Perhaps right-hander Bartolo Colon will be the ace of the A’s in 2013. Oakland recently re-signed him to a one-year deal. Colon missed most of the last half of 2012 after being suspended 50 games for failing a drug test.
As it stands right now, expect an A’s rotation to look something like this:
Pitching will be a huge factor in determining whether the A’s will be contenders or pretenders next season.
According to rotochamp.com, the Oakland lineup is projected to look like this:
With the acquisitions of OF’s Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes last year, and the acquisitions of OF/DH Chris Young, and Japanese SS Hiroyuki Nakajima this year, the A’s have built themselves a very respectable lineup.
Not many opposing pitchers will be scared to face this lineup as it lacks power in some areas, but it is one of the most balanced lineups in all of baseball.
Adding Young and Nakajima was very important for Oakland. Young is a great hitter whose best years are ahead of him, and if Nakajima is who they think he’ll be, then the rest of the league is in some serious trouble.
Grade: B- (Only because we don’t know how Nakajima will do vs. MLB pitching)
If you watched any A’s games towards the end of the year and into the postseason, then you’ll probably know a little bit about this Oakland bullpen.
Led by closer Grant Balfour, the A’s bullpen was able to maintain an outstanding 2.94 ERA- fourth in the MLB.
There is no question that this A’s bullpen was one of the best in the league in 2012, and I expect them to be very successful again in 2013.
Aside from the pure quality of pitchers, Oakland has one of the most balanced bullpens in all of baseball. According to rotochamp.com, the A’s will have five right-handed relievers, and four left-handed relievers. Having a steady balance between righties and lefties in the pen can prove to be very useful for this team late in ballgames.
Overall team grade: B
There is no doubt in my mind that this team will reach the postseason for the second straight year. It is very possible for the A’s to win 90+ games in 2013, but I think a more realistic prediction would be somewhere in the range of 85-87 wins.
With that being said, I see the Angels winning 90-95 games next season.
At this point, the Angels are just too much for this young Oakland team to handle. The divisional race could come down to the last 8-12 games, but I expect LAA to come out on top of the AL West.
This is a fantastic young team, but I just can’t see them winning back-to-back AL West titles. I see the A’s finishing at 87-75 and capturing the #1 Wild Card spot.