Oakland Athletics

Series Preview: A's take their win streak north

After an improbable weekend sweep of the Yankees (my projection model said that there was just a 1.6 percent chance of that happening), the A’s are headed to Toronto to face another team with playoff aspirations.

The A’s have the best record in baseball since the All-Star break going 8 and 1. On top of it all, they have won 14 of their last 16 games. As the hottest team in baseball, they certainly aren’t going to sneak up on anyone right now. So the Blue Jays are not likely to be looking past Oakland. It should be another good test for this young team.

The projection model still believes the A’s are playing above their heads, but with each passing win, it has started to give them more and more credit for what they have done. As much as I love my model, I love seeing the A’s streak of doing the improbable even more. I hope it keeps on going.

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 MLB.com):

Tuesday, July 24, 4:07: Travis Blackley vs. Brett Cecil

Wednesday, July 25, 4:07 PM: A.J. Griffin vs. Ricky Romero

Thursday, July 26, 9:37 AM (Breakfast Baseball!): Tommy Milone vs. Aaron Laffey


Blue Jays A’s
Game 1 47% 53%
Game 2 55% 45%
Game 3 57% 43%
Sweep 15% 10%
2 out 3 40% 35%
1 out 3 35% 40%
0 out 3 10% 15%
Win Series 55% 45%
Lose Series 45% 55%

There is one big piece of information that the model doesn’t know about for this series: The Jay’s best hitter Jose Bautista is injured and won’t play in this series. I am not really sure how much that would change things, but it surely helps the A’s chances–just not in a way that I can confidently quantify.

When you take a look at where each team has the advantages in this one, it is no different than it has been for the A’s all season. The A’s dominate at preventing runs but are well behind their competition in scoring runs. In each game, the A’s run prevention is nearly a full run better than the Blue Jay’s.

The only problem is the Jay’s have a full run advantage. Throw in the home field factor and the Blue Jays are favorites in two out of three games. So the big question for the A’s is can they keep up the timely hitting to go along with their excellent pitching?

If they can do that, it isn’t out of the question that they keep on rolling. It’s a tall order but with the surprising power they have shown this season it isn’t too much to ask. After all, we just saw them do something (sweep the Yankees in a four game series) that they wouldn’t likely repeat if they had another 100 tries.

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