(an update on previous posts)
The A's are LUCKY to be in first place ahead of the...Rangers?!
Baseball Prospectus has an excellent, an eerily accurate, report called Adjusted Standings (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/standings.php). The report looks at each team's stats (hits, walks, extra base hits etc etc - even defense), and determines what a team SHOULD have scored and what a team SHOULD have allowed. From there, the report figures out, based on their actual hitting and pitching performance, what each team's W-L record should be. It's truly amazing - this "third hand" analysis has 22 of the 30 teams pegged "right on" - within three wins of their actual total! There a couple of more teams that are on the fringe. There are four teams, however, that have been UNUSUALLY LUCKY, or unlucky - INCLUDING OUR NORTHERLY FRIENDS.
The A's are essentially a .500, or slightly better , team that has been either lucky, or is playing above its head. When the A's went 3-3 this last week, THEY WEREN'T CHOKING - the results were indicative of how they've been playing ALL YEAR.
Additionally, the most UNLUCKY team has been the Indians. The Indians have pitched and batted well all year. However, the results haven't shown up in the W column. According to BP's report, the Indians have been JUST AS GOOD AS THE WHITE SOX AND TWINS this year. Guess who Oakland plays four times before the Angels come to town? And lately, the wins are starting to show up (finally) for Cleveland. (It's my opinion that the division will be won/lost during Oakland's ten games vs. MIN (away), CHI and CLE).
Regarding the Angels, the report is pretty accurate - it's within two wins of the Halos actual total. The Halos have been unlucky (although not as much as you might believe) with the errors always seemingly costing them games. The report says one thing loud and clear: THE ANGELS ARE THE BETTER TEAM.
TOO MUCH STATS FOR YOU? Okay then, we can say it another way: the Angels pitch and hit better than the A's overall, just as you might imagine. Angel pitchers walk fewer batters, strike out opposing hitters more, and allow fewer hits than their Oakland counterparts - yet Oakland has allowed ten fewer earned runs (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/aggregate?statType=pitching&group=7&seasonType=2&typ e=type1&sort=ERA&split=0&season=2006). It doesn`t add up. The Adjusted Standings reflects discrepancies like this. Until now, however, the REAL records haven't reflected the Angels pitching and hitting advantage. Let's hope that it does within the next three weeks...