Can the Athletics put an end to their post season woes?
In-Play Trader Chris Randall assess' Oakland Athletics' post season chances.
The punters certainly aren't convinced. Despite the A's being the favourites for the American League (5/2, with the Detroit Tigers next favourite at 3/1) and for the World Series (5/1 with the Tigers at 11/2), the betting population remain sceptical of their ability to go the distance in the Post Season. Far more popular are teams such as fan-favourite Yankees (currently 20/1), who despite only just keeping their heads above .500 this year, have a far better play off record.
And is it really any surprise? The team which Billy Beane has crafted with a field of baseball analysis called sabre-metrics has consistently struggled in the Post Season. Since 1997 when he was appointed General Manager, the team has made the playoffs a total of seven times, but during these campaigns they have mustered only a single Divisional Series win against the Twins in 2006. In addition to this, all but one Post Season exits have come from a Game 5 matchup of a best of 5 series, seemingly suggesting that they're unable to get the big results when it matters most.
In fairness, the A's have compiled some decent feats in the Regular Season under Beane's leadership, and usually on a stringent budget. The A's reached the playoffs in four consecutive years between 2000 to 2003 and did so with an annual pay roll which peaked at 25th of the 30 MLB teams during this time, and in the 2006 season they became the first ever team to reach 20 consecutive wins in the American League. This year, they top the entire league being the only team with over a .600 record, and amassing impressive stats such as being the 2nd highest scoring team with 460 runs, the team allowing the least number of runs at 314, and the team with the highest number of walks (at 359 a whole 28 more than any other team). The recent addition of pitcher Jeff Samardzija certainly isn't going to cause them any harm either.
As such it's not surprising that while little money has been staked on the favourites for the World Series and the American League, the public have been a lot more encouraged by their chances of picking up the American League West Divisional title for a third consecutive year (currently at 2/5) which is based solely on Regular Season performance and is where the vast majority of the money has been seen.
It would seem that the only way Beane can convince the world that his team can make the big time is to actually do it. If he could somehow replicate his team's Regular Season performance into the Post Season, there would be seemingly no stopping them, but history suggests this has been far easier said than done.