Everyone can see that the Oakland Athletics have been doing a great job of hitting the long ball this season. In fact, some could argue that the A’s have actually been overly-dependent on hitting the ball over the fence this season. The team has basically needed to hit a home run to win this season. Without home runs, there has not been a whole lot of winning or scoring.
Results in Relation to Home Runs
All five times so far this season that Oakland has failed to hit a home run, the team walked away with a loss. Compare that to 17 wins and three losses in the 20 games that Oakland has hit a home run. Without home runs, the A’s literally have not been able to win games this season.
So far this season, the A’s have scored 131 runs. Of those runs, 68 have come from the team’s 40 home runs. This equates to roughly 51.9% of the Athletics’ runs coming from the long ball. This is the seventh-highest percentage across the Majors this season.
With all of these home runs, the A’s have been one of the best teams in the American League West, the American League, and all of the Major Leagues. At the time of writing, Oakland sits second in all of Major League Baseball with an 18-8 record, trailing just the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are sitting at 19-8. The Dodgers also sit one spot ahead of the Athletics in the percentage of runs from home runs, seeing 55.9% of the runs come from the long-ball.
Playoff Home Runs
The Athletics are among the favorites to make the playoffs, and that is almost in large part due to this absolute abundance of home runs hit so far. However, in the postseason, home runs tend to fall off a bit. Since 2000, average home runs have dropped from 2.5 to 2.47 per game. That is not a significant drop-off. The more significant drop off is when you look at runs scored from home runs.
When looking at runs from home runs, MLB teams averaged 3.87 per game in the regular season. In the postseason, that number dropped to 3.76. That still is not a huge drop-off, but a 3% drop off from the regular season to the playoffs is relatively significant. Pitchers in the playoffs are not going to give up as many pitches to hit deep, especially when there are runners on base. These seemingly minuscule margins could be the difference between a playoff exit and a run to the World Series.
This Athletics offense is on fire right now, but to sustain this sort of run, they will need to find some other ways to put runs up on the board. Whether just getting more hits (the Athletics are 19th in the league) or avoiding hitting into double plays (the A’s are 6th most in the MLB), they will have to find a way to score runs in some other sorts of ways. Having more than half of your runs come from home runs is not a sustainable way to produce offense in the big leagues.
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