Series Preview: A’s hot streak put to the test

The A’s are perfect since the All-Star game after dominating the Twins over the weekend. With the sweep, the A’s are in the thick of the second wild card hunt (I still think that they are still a year or two too early to really contend but I would love to be surprised) and face a stiff test on their home stand.

With the Rangers in for a two-game series and the Yankees in for four, the A’s have a chance to prove that they are not pretenders. It will be tough, but with the way the team is playing, they certainly should have a chance to win a few games against both teams.

In case you forgot or haven’t seen the explanation, here is a quick description of how the model works:

  • I start by estimating the runs scored and allowed for each team given the starting pitcher, bullpen, defense and each team’s offense.
  • The data used in the projection model is based on the current season’s statistics to date and ZiPS projections, with the weighting shifting more toward the actual stats as the season progresses.
  • The estimated run differential is then converted into a projected winning percentage using the pythagorean expectation.
  • Then, it’s converted into an odds of winning the game using the log5 method developed by Bill James

Probables (via

Tuesday, July 17, 7:05 PM:  Bartolo Colon vs. Roy Oswalt

Wednesday, July 18, 12:35 PM: Travis Blackley vs. Colby Lewis


A’s Rangers
Game 1 43% 57%
Game 2 42% 58%
Sweep 18% 33%
Split 49% 49%
0 out 2 33% 18%

What a difference a couple of weeks makes. The last time the A’s faced off against the Rangers, the odds were heavily stacked in the favor of the Rangers. In the four game series, the projection system didn’t give the A’s a better than 30-percent chance to win in three of them. In the game that they were given the best odds, it was still 62-38 in favor of the Rangers.

Now with the A’s hot and the Rangers no longer steamrolling every opponent in their path, the A’s odds are much better.

The Rangers still have an advantage in the offensive categories, but it is much closer than it was previously.  The A’s haven’t scored a ton of runs, but they have blossomed into a team with some power. Combine that power with their good pitching, and the A’s have a very nice formula for winning games.

As for pitching , the A’s are right there with the Rangers. The A’s have the best ERA in the AL and the 3rd best FIP in (the Rangers are 4th and 2nd in those categories).

All things considered, the projection model expects much closer games than we saw a couple weeks ago. In that last series, the A’s managed to hang with the Rangers pretty well considering they lost 3 of 4 games. I think that the A’s would be pretty happy to take a split in this little two game series and I don’t think that is too optimistic either.

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