Pratt's A's-Tigers ALDS capsule


Pratt's A's-Tigers ALDS capsule


Key facts:
A's: 94-68 (AL West champions)
Tigers: 88-74 (AL Central champions)
Head to head record: Tigers won the series 4-3. (Split four in Oakland in May, lost 2 of 3 in Detroit in September.)
Runs: Detroit 726 (6th in AL) Oakland 713 (8th in AL)
ABHR: Detroit 33.6 (9th in AL) Oakland 28.3 (6th in AL)
Starting Pitchers ERA: Detroit 3.75 (3rd in AL) Oakland 3.48 (2nd in AL)
Bullpen ERA: Detroit 3.76 (2nd in AL) Oakland 3.80 (3rd in AL)

Starting rotation
The A's rotation has overcome a lot this season. They've lost Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon, and Brett Anderson. The rookies have found a way to step it up and succeed. Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone both tied with a team-leading 13 wins this season which is an Oakland rookie record. The Tigers will be able to throw reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award-winner Justin Verlander in game one. He is 2-0 against the A's. Verlander (239) and Max Scherzer (231) led Major League Baseball in strikeouts. Doug Fister also struck out nine consecutive batters to set an American League record on September 27. EDGE: TIGERSBullpen
The A's bullpen has been the backbone of the team. Now well rested after a few days off, Oakland's arms will be ready to lock down late leads or eat innings. The A's bullpen has been better than Detroit's all season. Furthermore, Oakland's closer Grant Balfour hasn't blown a save since re-taking over ninth inning duties on August 11, and is 1-0, with 17 saves, and a 2.08 ERA in that timeframe. Tigers' closer Jose Valderde finished the season with three saves in as many days but hasn't been as consistent this year. The A's also have an All-Star set up man in Ryan Cook, and up-and-coming rookie Sean Doolittle. EDGE: A'SOutfield
The A's three best offensive players are in the outfield. They also might be the A's three best defensive players. Josh Reddick hit 32 home runs this season and finished second in the American League with 15 outfield assists. Yoenis Cespedes hit 23 home runs which is the third most in Oakland history by a rookie, and has a cannon for a throwing arm in left field. Coco Crisp has great range defensively and ranked fourth in the AL with a .367 average with runners in scoring position. EDGE: A'SInfield
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder Enough said. EDGE: TIGERS Catchers
The Tigers have Alex Avila and Gerald "G-Money" Laird, while the A's have George Kottaras and Derek Norris in a platoon.The A's young catchers have combined have equalled one productive backstop. With the Tigers' righty heavy rotation expect Kottaras to see most of the time behind the dish. Avila had a very productive season this year but fell off a bit in 2012. The A's hold the edge in the power department at catcher so I am inclined to give them the advantage but not by much. EDGE: A'SOverall defense
The Tigers made 99 errors this season. The A's made 111. The Tigers had a better fielding percentage (.983) than the A's (.982). The A's have been susceptible to making defensive mistakes in big games. The Tigers have subpar defense on the left side of the infield. Baseball Prospectus tracks a stat called Defensive Efficiency Rating that tracks the percentage of balls hit into play that are converted into outs. The A's ranked ranked third with a .723 while the Tigers ranked 27th with .693 percentage. EDGE: A'S Overall offense
The A's lead Major League Baseball in runs scored (394) and home runs (112) in the second half. Detroit scored 726 runs this season to Oakland's 713. The A's hit 32 more home runs, and stole 63 more bases. The Tigers had a higher on-base percentage (.335 .310) and a higher slugging percentage (.422.404) than the A's. With the Tigers' big boppers in the middle of the order, and the solid seasons of Austin Jackson (.300, 16 HR, 66 RBI) and Delmon Young (.267, 18 HR, 74 RBI), the "O" edge goes to the "D."EDGE: TIGERSManagerintangibles
What A's manager Bob Melvin has done with this team is spectacular. He is communicative and exploits the match ups to get the most out of his team. Melvin said Tigers' Manager Jim Leyland was his manager in Instructional League in 1981. I think it isn't necessarily fair to say the student has surpassed the teacher, because Leyland is still holding his own at the highest level. Leyland leads all active MLB managers with 1,676 wins. Leyland has a disadvantage because he has nothing but righties in the rotation. That will give Melvin the ability to start with a lefty heavy lineup and then bring in his key right handed hitters if Leyland goes to a lefty. Melvin is a strong AL Manager of the Year candidate, Leyland is one of the best ever. Too close to call. EDGE: SPLITOverall edge
The A's are considered the underdogs in this series. They have home field advantage but it doesn't feel like it with the first two games of the series taking place in Detroit. Oakland finished strong and never held sole possession of first place until winning the final game of the season. Detroit also finished strong finally taking first place from the White Sox on September 26. Oakland however has been the hottest team in baseball since June 2 with a 71-38 record. They won more games than the Tigers, they have been a hotter team for a sustained period of time, and they should be favored in this series. EDGE: A'S

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach


A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect


Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.