Season 81-81 C
Who would have guessed that this team, buoyed by better-than-expected pitching, a serious pitcher’s park, and a weak division, would have taken a shot at contention? A .500 April followed by a 16-12 May were good enough to propel them into first place – they were first or second all through April and May. June started poorly, though, and they dropped to third on June 5th, and never again led. They dueled with the Angels off-and-on for second place as the Rangers ran away with the division, winning their final 4 games to claim that spot by a single game.
Hitters 61.75-100.25 F
This team’s inability to score is well-documented. Ultimately they scored only 663 runs, worse than every AL team except the Orioles and the Mariners. When everyone decries the offensive collapse of Jack Cust, and he is in fact your second-best hitter, you know you are in trouble. 68.5 wins would still be F, so this bunch cleared the bar by plenty. Only 3 regulars had an OPS+ over 100, and one of those was 102. A truly awful offense.
Starters 101.25-61.75 A+
Billy Beane may have done it again, as 24-year-old Gio Gonzalez emerged as the ace of the team and a reasonable #1, and 22-year-old Trevor Cahill was even better. 26-year-old Dallas Braden was better than solid, and 22-year-old Brett Anderson and 23-year-old Vin Mazzaro showed promise in 19 and18 starts respectively. This could turn out to be as good as the Mulder-Hudson-Zito days, which were very good, indeed. As bad as the hitters were, the rotation was that good.
Relievers 82/423 B-
And the bullpen was fine, if unsung. Patching together a group that we never heard of, Beane once again proved his thesis that relievers need not be highly paid, because you can find people that can get a few outs at a time. The pitching/defense exactly balanced out the awful offense, and the .500 season was a result. In fact, from RS/RA the A’s should have won a few more games than they actually did (85-77). Given an average hitting team, they could have had the best record in baseball.
|Gio Gonzalez||33||200.2||3.23||15 – 9||22.5 – 10.5|
|Dallas Braden||30||192.2||3.50||11 – 14||17.25 – 12.75|
|Trevor Cahill||30||196.2||2.97||18 – 8||22 – 8|
|Ben Sheets||20||119.1||4.53||4 – 9||10.5 – 9.5|
|Brett Anderson||19||112.1||2.80||7 – 6||12.5 – 6.5|
|Vin Mazzaro||18||105.0||4.29||5 – 8||10.5 – 7.5|
|Justin Duchscherer||5||27.2||2.89||2 – 1||2.75 – 2.25|
|Bobby Cramer||4||23.2||3.04||2 – 1||2.75 – 1.25|
|Tyson Ross||2||7.2||7.04||0 – 2||.25 – 1.75|
|Clayton Mortenson||1||6.0||4.50||0 – 0||.75 – .25|