Oakland Athletics

The Oakland A’s are the Rodney Dangerfield of Major League Baseball this season. They’re getting no respect. For the life of me, I can’t figure it out. As I’ve mentioned a few different times, the A’s are one of my favorite over season win total bets. They won 97 games last season with a 95-67 Pythagorean Win-Loss record and a 95-67 BaseRuns record. This wasn’t a fluke.

Please tell me how they got worse. The starting rotation is the same set of question marks it has always been, just with some substantial talent upgrades lurking in the minor leagues. The bullpen just might be better with the inclusion of Joakim Soria. Jed Lowrie is gone, but Jurickson Profar has arrived to take his place and the rest of the offense looks the same.

Oakland has a tremendous home field advantage in that nobody wants to play there. The A’s were 50-31 at home, but also went 47-34 on the road. Perhaps people are disenfranchised with Oakland because of a 33-40 record against teams .500 or better, but there only appears to be one other AL West team that should post a winning record in my estimation and the AL East and AL Central combine for five bad teams.

Anyway, this is more about game-by-game betting tips and ideas. The A’s are going to be quite interesting in that regard.


Money Line Spots

I can’t wait to see how this team is lined. Betting odds for Major League Baseball overvalue starting pitchers and their importance to the outcome of the game. Having a tremendous bullpen and a strong offense helps. The A’s were just 70-64-28 after five innings last season, but they were 20-8 in those games that were tied going into the sixth. Teams that were trailing going into the sixth won at just a .173 clip with a 354-1689 record. Oakland went 14-50 and won at a .219 clip.

In other words, you probably don’t want to be too scared off by the Oakland rotation. No, it isn’t great, but the rest of the team is and that is what matters. I feel like I’ll be on Oakland a lot this season when they face marginal or bad starting pitchers or bad bullpens. Their offense is well equipped to hit bad pitching and the bullpen will be the better of the two most nights.

There are likely to be a lot of people that feel differently about Oakland than me. The A’s went 31-14 in one-run games. The market won’t see value like I do in Marco Estrada and won’t be backing Mike Fiers much. I think Oakland is a team where patience will yield some better prices.


Totals Spots

Oakland was an exception to the rule about teams with bad starting staffs. The A’s were 79-73-10 to the over, due in large part to an offense that was better than anticipated. Not many people had the A’s pegged for five runs per game, which trailed only the Red Sox and Yankees.

I do think that there will be some batted ball regression for the A’s this season, as a lot of their hitters posted high BABIPs. I think the offense will come back to the pack a tad, so there could be some under value there. Also, Oakland Coliseum yielded the worst batting average in baseball on ground balls. Unders in Oakland with ground ball pitchers on either side make a lot of sense.

The A’s scored 4.56 runs per game at home and 5.48 runs per game on the road. The pitching staff also saw similar splits. You’ll want to keep that in mind, as Oakland Coliseum can still help mediocre pitchers, like most of what the A’s have on the starting staff.


Individual Players to Watch

Marco Estrada – Marco Estrada doesn’t have many believers in the betting community. I’ll try to blaze a trail and hope I don’t blaze my bankroll in the process. Estrada goes from Rogers Centre in Toronto, which ranked third in wOBA on fly balls and line drives, to Oakland Coliseum, which ranked 20th in that category. Yankee Stadium was second. Fenway Park was fifth. Estrada got rocked in his three starts at those two venues and in his 14 at home.

The AL West provides some substantial park factor upgrades, as Angel Stadium ranks 15th, Minute Maid Park is 19th, Safeco Field is 22nd, and Texas is fourth in wOBA on fly balls and line drives. We’ll avoid Estrada in Texas, but I won’t treat him like a leper like most of the market.

Mike Fiers – Anytime you see a 3.56/4.75/4.51 pitcher slash, you know that’s a guy that the market can’t wait to fade. That guy is Mike Fiers, who managed a 3.56 ERA while allowing 32 home runs in 172 innings. He even allowed 12 in 53 innings for the A’s and posted a 3.74 ERA over his nine starts and one relief outing.

Fiers had a big K increase with the A’s, going from 17.3 percent to 24.5 percent. He also added velocity, so maybe Oakland found a mechanical thing. I’m very skeptical and he is a guy I’d consider fading in this rotation.