Though only one loss away from falling out of contention for the AL West title, the Athletics should still see  the playoffs. Yes, baring any major meltdown, Oakland has all but secured a spot in baseball’s  inaugural “Wild Card One Game Playoff-A-Poolza.”

While I haven’t checked my Mayan calendar as of late, it is looking as though the A’s will face either the New York Yankees of the Baltimore Orioles. With that in mind, I thought a comparison of the three teams would apt, especially after seeing Bay Area Stats Guy’s post regarding the present day Giants and the 2010 club. 

Certainly, the three teams have similar records and disparate payrolls. But, beyond that, it looks as though the A’s might be the best of the three.

Catcher

Notes: If any conclusion can be drawn here, it is that the A’s don’t get much production from the Derek Norris or George Kottaras, though Kottaras’ slugging percentage is surprisingly high. Matt Wieters is not a name I hear often, which is surprising given his stateline.

First Base

Notes: These stats are specific to when the player actually plays first base (except WAR), so if the slash line seems a bit off, that’s why. After what he showed this weekend, Brandon Moss is asserting himself as one of an up-and-coming first basemen. That he rivals Mark Teixeira is no surprise.

Second Base

Notes: Okay, so Robinson Cano is the best thing since sliced bread. So what? At least the A’s aren’t as bad as the Orioles in this department. Plus, Cliff Pennington has been much improved since maning second base.

Short Stop

Notes: I don’t really need to add any notes. Obviously, Derek Jeter is good and Stephen Drew is, well, not as good.

Third Base

Notes: I was really surprised by how poorly Alex Rodriguez has been playing. Manny Machado is a name to keep your eye one.

Left Field

Notes: As if you needed these stats to know that Yeonis Cespedes is the cream of the crop. He is a truly impressive player who just seems to get better and better.

Center Field

Notes: Coco Crisp might not have had a good game on Sunday, but his importance was made apparent over the weekend. Off these three, I don’t think anyone is as important to their ball club as Crisp is to the A’s.

Right Field

Notes: I’m a little surprised that Josh Reddick owns a 4.6 WAR given his struggles as of late. That said, he’s been very good over the past seven games, and he’s always been a more than competent right fielder. Also, I know Nick Markakis is not playing currently, but he is expected back for the playoffs.

Designated Hitter

Notes: The Orioles have been using Jim Thome at DH and Chris Davis in RF because of the injury to Markakis.

Starting Pitching

Notes: I included Brett Anderson in this comparison because I think he’ll be available for the playoffs. I also excluded Andy Pettitte because of injury. Were he included, the Yankees’ staff would have gotten a boost.

Relief Pitching

Notes: To maintain my sanity, I didn’t explicate individual pitchers.

Conclusion

WAR

According to WAR, the Yankees are the better team. And, perhaps with their playoff experience, they’re even better than their WAR suggests. What’s amazing, though, is that the A’s are close behind them, despite having a payroll that is $140 million less than the Yankees. It is beyond comprehension really.

What doesn’t show up in these statistics is the A’s youth, which can be either a strength or a weakness. Until now, the the youthful exuberance and inexperience of the A’s has played to their advantage. But, I’m not sure how far it can carry them into the playoffs.

The A’s are 5-5 against the Yankees and 5-4 against the Orioles this season. Their odds of beating either team in a one game playoff are good. Even if they have to face CC Sabathia, who is a perfect .500 when starting against the A’s, their chances aren’t diminished. In all, that they have had neither great success nor deflating failure against either team is ideal for such a young team. The playoffs will represent a blank canvas, a situation which would benefit youth as much as it would experience.