At the start of the season the Oakland A’s were supposed to be also-rans in the American League West while the two free-spending titans, Texas and Anaheim, battled for the crown.

Six months and 156 games later and the A’s are on the brink of going to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Cool Standings puts the A’s playoff odds at 80.4% (75.5% Wild Card, 4.9% Division), projecting 91.3 wins. Baseball Prospectus has them at 85.78% (81.2% Wild Card, 4.5% Division), also projecting 91.3 wins.

While that is pretty reassuring, what’s really helpful is to examine the A’s compared to the other teams they are fighting for the final playoff spots.

Each team has six games remaining, so I did my best to extrapolate their starting rotation through the end of the season and put everything into my Series Projection Model to see the odds for each game.

Oakland Athletics

Oakland finally comes home after a brutal three city road trip against first place teams. They finish the season against the Mariners and Rangers and that could work out pretty nicely. Oakland should be fortunate enough to miss Felix Hernandez when Seattle visits. In the final three games, the Rangers might have already locked up the division so they might give some of their regulars a day or two to rest up.

The final six games odds break down like this for the A’s:

Oakland
Odds
Wins
Odds
SEA
69%
6
2%
SEA
63%
5
11%
SEA
57%
4
26%
TEX
42%
3
31%
TEX
51%
2
21%
TEX
51%
1
7%
Average
56%
0
1%

 

If the A’s can win four out of six the worst they can do is have a one-game playoff with either the Rays or Angels. Three or more wins and the A’s should be in the playoffs and I like the odds (70%) of that happening.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have the lowest expected winning percentage of the remaining contenders — just 50%. They play the woeful Red Sox but then have to travel to Tampa Bay to face the Rays. If things didn’t go well against Boston, the season could be on the line.

The silver lining is that they are in the driver’s seat, a full three games up on the Rays and the Angels with a magic number of four.

The last six games for the Orioles:

Baltimore
Odds
Wins
Odds
BOS
60%
6
1%
BOS
61%
5
8%
BOS
62%
4
22%
at TBR
42%
3
32%
at TBR
36%
2
25%
at TBR
40%
1
10%
Average
50%
0
2%

 

If they take care of business against the Red Sox, they can deflate a bunch of the drama from the last series with the Rays — a team I would really not want to face with all that quality pitching they can throw at you. With odds at 60%-plus for each game it shouldn’t be a problem … but as we learned last year, you never know.

Los Angeles Angels of the O.C.

The Angels’ loss to Seattle at home yesterday could loom large. With their final six games all on the road, facing the Rangers who are looking to clinch the division and then facing Felix Hernandez in Seattle in the final series, things don’t look bright.

That loss kept them at two games back of the A’s, meaning they can’t afford to lose many more games — especially with no more left against teams ahead of them in the standings.

The last six games for the Angels:

Anaheim
Odds
Wins
Odds
at TEX
43%
6
2%
at TEX
45%
5
10%
at TEX
39%
4
25%
at SEA
51%
3
32%
at SEA
56%
2
22%
at SEA
64%
1
8%
Average
50%
0
1%

 

The four-game stretch starting with tonight’s game is tough and is potentially enough to knock them out of the playoff picture. The Angels’ playoff chances sure don’t look very good.

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay just played the first of a four game series against the collapsing White Sox, winning 3-2 and moving into a tie with the Angels in the Wild Card standings. The Rays are playing good baseball and are tied with the A’s for highest expected winning percentage remaining. They will need every bit of that to close the gap.

One good thing for the Rays: as long as they can get through the White Sox series within three games of the Orioles they have the potential to control their own destiny in the final three games, as they face Baltimore at home to close the season.

The last six games for the Rays:

Tampa Bay
Odds
Wins
Odds
at CHW
48%
6
3%
at CHW
43%
5
13%
at CHW
61%
4
28%
BAL
58%
3
31%
BAL
64%
2
19%
BAL
60%
1
6%
Average
56%
0
1%

 

I wouldn’t count the Rays out in terms of their ability to make things interesting down to the last game of the season. They have tremendous pitching and a pretty favorable schedule, so winning five or maybe even all of their last six games wouldn’t surprise me.

Texas Rangers

I am including the Rangers in here because it is still possible for the A’s to catch them. The odds aren’t great after yesterday’s comeback effort fell short, but they aren’t zero yet either with the last three games of the season taking place in Oakland.

The Rangers magic number is three so it would take a pretty spectacular collapse for them to lose the division. Falling out of the playoffs entirely would be even more surprising. However, their last six games are all against teams that are fighting for the playoffs so the road won’t be easy.

Here are the last six games for Texas:

Texas
Odds
Wins
Odds
LAA
57%
6
2%
LAA
55%
5
12%
LAA
61%
4
27%
at OAK
58%
3
31%
at OAK
49%
2
20%
at OAK
49%
1
7%
Average
55%
0
1%

 

Not an easy stretch but the Rangers are favored in four out of six games, with two that are nearly toss-ups. That should be plenty to get them a third consecutive AL West title.

***

(Bay Area Stats Guy drops the mic, and Bay Area Sports Guy steps to the keyboard…)

Get your typing fingers ready, because your comments could equal delicious thin crust pizza!!!

Here’s how you can win an Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria Playoff Pizza Party for 20 at your home (as long as your home is in Amici’s delivery area):

Every day this week we’ll be running an contest post where you can comment for your chance to win. And you probably want to win, because even if you don’t have 19 friends you can probably make some pretty quickly if you get up on your roof and shout “FREE PIZZA AT MY PLACE!”

We’re still beyond excited that Amici’s is supporting BASG, to the point where I was driving last night to pick up my wife from track practice at Kezar Stadium (she’s training to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon) and I saw an Amici’s car parked in front of a house on Page Street. “Oh, maybe they read about the Giants today and got hungry for some pizza,” I thought. As Bay Area Stats Guy wrote earlier in this post, “you never know.”

Readers can enter daily — the more you comment, the higher your chances are to win a Playoff Pizza Party for 20 from Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria. There will be a random drawing on Saturday to select winner.

TODAY’S COMMENT TOPIC:

WHERE DO YOU SEE THE A’S FINISHING: DIVISION CHAMPS, WILD CARD, OR OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS ALTOGETHER?

Previous posts you can still comment on (contest ends at midnight tonight — I’ll be randomly drawing a winner from the comments on Saturday):

Monday: Who gets left out of the Giants’ postseason starting rotation?

TuesdayWho pitches in the Wild Card elimination game for the A’s?

Wednesday: Better NLDS matchup for the Giants – Reds or Nats?

ThursdayWho’d win a Bay Bridge Series, Part 2?

Good luck!