2011 Oakland A's Predictions and MLB Futures Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 3/24/2011
For over a decade the Oakland A’s have been a quintessential small ball team. They have utilized excellent pitching, solid defense and timely hitting to compete despite a slim payroll and the lack of any top-end hitting talent. And the results have been generally superb, as they have finished .500 or better in 10 of 13 seasons while averaging 87.2 wins a season.
But the irony of this franchise is that perhaps no team benefited as much from the Steroid Era as the A’s and over the last half-decade they haven’t come close to matching the heights they attained when juiced-up stars like Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejeda, et. al were leading the way.
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That’s the bad news. The good news is that since baseball has – for the most part – cleaned steroids out of the game MLB has morphed back to its roots. And now with scoring and power numbers on the decline teams have to adjust and learn to play things out in a manner that the A’s are more accustomed to. Small ball is all the rage. And perhaps now Oakland is ready to compete again at the highest levels.
Here are Doc’s Sports 2011 Oakland A’s Predictions and MLB Futures Odds:
2010 Record: 79-83
2011 Wins Over/Under: 82.5
Odds To Win 2011 AL West: 2.8/1
Odds To Win 2011 AL Pennant: 15/1
2011 Oakland Athletics Odds to Win the World Series: 30/1
Pitching: This is the clear-cut strength of this team. But in my mind the jury is still very much out as to whether or not they have enough – or any, for that matter – top-end arms to get them back in the mix for a division title. Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill are all on the verge of their primes and not one of them is over the age of 27. They are the anchors of a staff that finished with the best starters’ ERA in the Majors last year. However, who is the ace? Who is the stopper? Who is the guy capable of carrying the team for a month? Cahill had the gaudiest numbers last year, going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. But he also benefited from the most absurd BABIP of any pitcher in the Majors last year (.224). Braden and Gonzalez were both also in the Top 25 in that stat so a regression out of one, or all, of them can be safely predicted. The bullpen is solid and has a chance to be one of the best in the game, though closer Andrew Bailey has been dealing with some arm issues in camp this spring. However, Brian Fuentes is an experienced closer and could fill in. Several other arms in the pen are proven and I expect this team to improve on last year’s No. 13 relievers’ ERA finish.
Hitting: Here is the problem with this team. Quite simply, their lineup is pathetic. It has been pathetic for several years now and it is as if Oakland management is simply closing its eyes and hoping really hard that someone will break out. Their top hitting regular (Rajai Davis) from last year hit just .284 and he has moved on. The only other starter to bat better than .275 was Mark Ellis (.291), but he is a career .268 hitter. And as they have done the past several years Oakland decided to go out and bring in retreads off the scrap heap to plug into the center of their lineup. This winter it was the additions of Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui, two guys that are at least three years removed from their best seasons and both have injury histories. I just don’t see where the pop is going to come from for this team one year after finishing No. 28 in the league in home runs. One potential X-Factor is David DeJesus, who came on this offseason after three quietly exceptional seasons in Kansas City. He and Matsui are the keys. But there is a lack of depth and overall power is going to remain a huge obstacle for this team, especially in a division where slugging Texas is setting the pace.
Key Stat: For the second year in a row the A’s had to use at least 25 non-pitchers during the course of the season. If you think about that, it equates to fielding nearly three completely separate nine-man teams. They have had an inordinate amount of bad luck with injuries in recent years.
2011 Oakland A’s Predictions: I gotta tell you; there is not much about this team that I really like. Sure, they have some good young pitching. But how confident are you laying a few dimes on Gio Gonzalez in a big game? Or counting on Mark Ellis or Daric Barton to deliver that big hit. I’ve been selling Oakland for the past couple years and I have been right. And I really don’t see any reason to change course heading into this year. Sure, they finished the season at .500 and in second place. But they only beat out the injury-ravaged Angels by a game and the A’s needed a four-game sweep over lowly Seattle to reach that mark. The three years prior they had won 75, 75 and 76 games, so mediocrity has become the norm in Oaktown. I think they will land somewhere in that range again – between 75-80 wins – and I think they are going to be a very valuable team this year for bettors. There are going to be times when they are clicking and they can run off a nice stretch of wins at great underdog prices. But then there will also be times when they struggle for prolonged stretches and they are completely overmatched and an easy ‘W’ to pad the bank roll.
2011 Oakland A’s MLB Season Win Totals Predictions: Take ‘Under’ 82.5 Wins. I don’t think I would be stunned if the A’s managed to finish .500 again this year. But I think I would be very, very surprised to see them come out and win 83-88 games. And there is no way I would bet on that happening. I think this number has a lot of value since Oakland hasn’t topped this number in four years. And as I look around I don’t see where they have made major upgrades to make them a real threat in the West. The Angels will be better than they were during last year’s train wreck and the Rangers are still the class of the division. That leaves the A’s stuck in neutral, stuck in third place, and likely stuck “under” 80 wins.
Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He is considered one of the top MLB cappers in the country and has turned a profit in four of the last five years on the diamond with his baseball picks. He closed 2010 with $6,000 in earnings over the last four months and is looking forward to a great upcoming season against the MLB odds. Click here for more information on his MLB picks.
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