This isn’t 2002 and Moneyball at its finest, this is pitching and playing to your strengths. This Oakland team is relying on the 2 run double or the 3 run home run much like the Tigers. Oakland features 4 guys with 22 homeruns or more including Coco Crisp (22), Josh Donaldson (24), Yoenis Cespedes (26), and Brandon Moss (30). The A’s were 4th in MLB in doubles as well lead by their shortstop Jed Lowie with 45 doubles while adding 15 home runs. This is a team that plays to Detroit’s strengths and are more than willing to swing away in an attempt to clear the bases.
However there is a downside the the free swinging A’s.
All of Oakland’s big hitters in the middle of their lineup have 110 strikeouts or better. So how does this help Detroit? Consider the fact they broke the MLB record for pitching staff strikeouts in a season.
The A’s do feature a player in Josh Donaldson that has come out of nowhere making himself a possible MVP candidate. Donaldson has put up numbers across the board along with playing stellar defense at 3rd base leading the A’s in batting average (.301), RBIs (93) and OBP (.384).
But he’s not the only player to worry about for Detroit.
Brandon Moss has thunder in his bat as the long time – part-time player has gotten regular at bats this year while keeping his average very manageable. This resulted in 30 home runs with a .522 slugging percentage. Moss is a high strikeout guy but had real nice numbers in August and September which included 8 and 5 home runs respectively and 19 RBIs in both months.
Finally one other offensive concern at the plate for the Tigers is OF Yoenis Cespedes. He has battled a shoulder injury for most of the year but the reigning Home Run Derby champ’s power cannot be denied. Despite missing chunks of the season he still managed 26 home runs in 135 games while hitting .240. Point being, when he connects the ball goes a long way. He also accumulated 21 doubles and 3 triples.
But aside from what Oakland can do at the plate, Detroit will have to be very aware of the A’s can do on the base paths. The Tigers simply cannot allow Oakland to take free bases as every match up will be magnified. The A’s don’t feature speed in the lineup after Cespedes and Crisp but Seth Smith is a guy that will be able to take 2nd base on the Tigers starting staff if they’re not paying attention. Verlander, Scherzer and Sanchez all have slow deliveries that will continue to allow runners to get big jumps.
The A’s pitching is what Tigers hitters will need to get after.
After his PED suspension and a bevy of injuries, Bartolo Colon is a possible Cy Young candidate posting his best season with 18 wins a 2.65 ERA and a 1.17 whip. Colon’s K rate isn’t what it used to be ( 5 ½ per 9) and the upper 90’s fastball is gone but he still tops out at 94 mph and still has pretty good control. Colon also has limited the extra base hits and HR’s, only giving up 14 in 190 IP
Jarrod Parker on the other hand is an example of what Oakland does, develop pitchers and have them pitch to their strengths. Parker is another young live arm with good stuff but gets in trouble with giving up the home run thus adding to his 3.97 ERA and 25 HR’s given up. Billy Beane though has gotten exactly what he wanted from Arizona for Trevor Cahill.
The A’s also have one of the better bullpens in baseball, with depth. When guys like Dolittle, Cook, Blevins it’s usually goodnight from the sixth inning on when they have the lead. Closer Grant Balfour also accumulated 38 saves this season.