The Oakland Athletics have underachieved all season. Even when they were playing well, the A’s winning percentage lagged their run expectancy by a historic margin. In mid-June, the deficit was the largest in the modern era, suggesting that, even though Oakland had the best record in the major leagues, the best was yet to come.
Oakland Athletics’ Actual vs. Expected Winning Percentage, 2014
Note: For information on how Pythagorean record are calculated, click here. Data as of September 2, 2014.
Source: Proprietary data base with data from baseball-reference.com
Since mid-June, the gap between the Athletics’ expected and actual winning percentage has been cut in half, but not because the team started to fulfill its potential. Instead of playing up to its run differential, Oakland’s Pythagorean record began to decline, even as Billy Beane spared no effort to improve the team. After playing at .500 for the last 56 games, the Athletics have ceded first place to the Angels and allowed the Tigers and Mariners to creep within three games of their hold on the two wild cards. If the trend continues, Oakland very well could make history, albeit not the kind they were aiming for during the summer.
Even with a prolong stretch of mediocrity, the Athletics still have the best run differential (and Pythagorean record) in baseball. If that remains, and Oakland finds itself out of the playoffs, it will be the first time in the wild care era that a team with the major’s best run differential and expected winning percentage did not make the post season. In the division era, which began in 1969, only three teams share that dubious distinction, and, since 1903 (the advent of the World Series) this unfortunate list only totals eight.
Teams With Best Pythagorean Record/Run Differential but No Postseason
*In 1978, the Brewers and Dodgers tied for the best per game run differential in the majors. The Dodgers won the NL pennant.
Note: The highest Pythagorean record doesn’t always correspond to the highest run differential. For information on how Pythagorean record is calculated, click here. Data as of September 2, 2014.
Note: Excludes 1904 and 1994, when no postseason was held.
Source: Proprietary data base with data from baseball-reference.com Continue Reading »