With the season more than halfway over, the Oakland Athletics are on their way to one of the best regular seasons in franchise history. Despite some criticisms of the way the team is playing, the 2020 Athletics are having a truly special season, especially when compared to previous iterations of the club.
How the 2020 Athletics Season Compares to the Past
Through 34 games, the Athletics are sitting at a 22-12 record. If the season were to end now, that would be the seventh-best winning percentage in A’s history and the best since the team moved to Oakland. Of the franchise’s top nine completed seasons based on winning percentage, they missed the playoffs once in 1928, won the American League pennant four times, and won the World Series four times. That is very good company for this season to be among.
It is also the 13th best record for the Athletics through the season’s first 34 games. The 12 better starts include three missed playoffs, one American League Divisional Series win, three American League Championships, and five World Series wins. The difference between this season’s start and two of those World Series is just one win.
Going off of just the wins and losses, this is truly one of the best seasons that Oakland has ever seen. When you dig a bit deeper, it is not quite what it seems. This season, Oakland has by far the weakest schedule in all of the MLB. And it is not particularly close either. According to ESPN, the gap between Oakland and the next toughest schedule is the same gap as there is between the seventh and 13th toughest schedules this season.
Similarly, if you look at Baseball-Reference’s Simple Rating System, Oakland is only ranked as the 11th best team in the MLB. That is a far drop off when you compare it to the best season that Oakland has ever seen based on simply wins and losses. That 11th ranking also would make the team the 8th best in the American League, which is also a significant drop from having the second-best record in the American League.
These factors combined make the chances of the A’s making a run in the playoffs seem very slim. Oakland currently has a 99.8% chance of making the playoffs. However, the Athletics are only sitting at a 7.2% chance to win the World Series, the sixth-best odds of any Major League team.
Building for the Playoffs
This could all change quite rapidly, though. Oakland went out at the trade deadline and made a couple of key moves to help strengthen the team a bit. First, they were able to get Tommy La Stella from the Los Angeles Angels in what was definitely the marquee move for Oakland. The A’s were also able to go out and pick up Mike Minor in a trade with another in-division team, the Texas Rangers. The two pick-ups were not every fan’s favorite moves, but the trades do strengthen the team and could help push Oakland closer to a World Series.
Overall, the 2020 Athletics has had a very good season so far. In fact, it is one of their better seasons of all-time just going off of their winning percentage and the start to the season. However, it is not simply as good as the wins and losses say. The team has the easiest schedule by far of any MLB team in 2020 and are not capitalizing on that as well as they could be. Hopefully, for Oakland, the two late pickups before the trade deadline will be enough to push Oakland to that next level and make this team a major contender for the American League pennant. They have the potential, they just need to play up to it now.
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