Getting Hot Too Early

The Oakland Athletics have been on an incredible tear lately, winning 18 of their last 22 ballgames.  They have taken over sole possession of the wild card spot in the

AL

, and appear to be hitting their annual second half stride.  So why then do I think that the A’s team will be on the golf course come October?  Well two reasons really.  One, I can’t stand the guy in my office telling me everyday about how hot they are and how great they are.  And two, and more precisely, two with a bunch of sub points, is as follows: they got hot too early.

What the heck does that even mean?  Is it possible to get hot too early?  Most out there would argue that a win is a win, regardless of when it happens in the schedule.  At the end of the year, the wins from April count just as much as the wins from September.  Well yes, and no.  True the wins count just as much towards the record, but when a team is in the playoff hunt at the end of the year, those wins are more important to ensure that your team stays in the race, puts pressure on their competitors to win, and gathers momentum for the end of September push into the playoffs.  Ideally a team would play their best baseball for the months of September and October, while remaining above .500 the rest of the year. 

The A’s got hot in the middle of July.  The law of averages dictates that a team playing baseball at an .818 clip is not going to keep it up for 3 or more months.  In fact, let’s say that the A’s were to play at a .600 clip from the middle of July through the end of the year (encompassing 75 games).  To put .600 baseball into perspective, a team finishing the season with a .600 winning percentage will have a record of 97-65.  At that pace, the A’s would post a record of 45-30 over the 75 game span.  That translates into a 27-26 record from this point out when one considers their 18-4 record in their last 22.  27-26 is not going to get them into the playoffs with the Yankees, Indians, and Twins having yet to hit their hot streak.

So I’ve made a lot of assumptions in the previous paragraph.  One could easily say, “what if they play .625 (29-24 the rest of the way) or .650 (31-22) baseball the rest of the way out?”  I would argue that .625 baseball is certainly plausible, but would going 29-24 the rest of the season be enough to get them in?  I for one don’t think so.  In fact I think they would need to play .650 ball to assure themselves the wildcard spot, and I’ll believe they’ll play at a .650 clip for 3 months when I see it.

Plus, let’s take a closer look at their current .818 run.  They have played

Texas

(7-1), LA (2-1),

Cleveland

(2-1),

Detroit

(3-0),

Minnesota

(3-1), and

Kansas City

(1-0).  With the exception of LA, they haven’t faced the stiffest of competition. 

Cleveland

is pretty good, as is

Minnesota

, while

Texas

,

Detroit

, and

Kansas City

are sub par teams.  I can’t penalize the A’s for taking care of business against

Detroit

,

Texas

and KC.  And they played well against LA,

Cleveland

and

Minnesota

.  However, let’s look at the schedule moving forward for

Oakland

the rest of the way.

Opponent                    Opp. W%                   Games Remaining

Angels                          .578                                         10

Red Sox                       .574                                         4

Yankees                       .542                                         3

Indians                         .527                                         3

Twins                           .514                                         6

Rangers                        .500                                         6

With 32 games against opponents at .500 or better, both the timing of their hot streak and their schedule are certainly against them. 

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