By Jason Wojciechowski on August 26, 2013 at 8:07 AM
Opponent: Detroit Tigers
Starting pitchers: A.J. Griffin vs. Anibal Sanchez
First pitch: 4:08 PT
A's in the West: Second place, 2 1/2 back of Texas, 13 ahead of Seattle
A's in the Wild Card: Second wild card, 2 1/2 back of Tampa Bay, 1 1/2 ahead of Cleveland
Baseball Prospectus playoff odds: 22 percent division, 38 percent Wild Card
A four-game series against the team with the best winning percentage in the American League, best run-differential in MLB, and far, far and away the best "third-order winning percentage" (a Baseball Prospectus stat that calculates "expected" winning percentage based on the statistics of the underlying individual players, adjusted for strength of schedule) in baseball? This is just what the A's needed! A slumping team needs a challenge, needs an opportunity for some quality wins to turn the ship around.
Baltimore doesn't count, they're overachievers who wouldn't even be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Cleveland doesn't count, same reason. Texas doesn't count because the A's are laying low on the Rangers, waiting to ambush them in the last week again. Cincinnati doesn't count because National League teams are just weird.
No, the Tigers, the Tigers are where Captain Melvin and his band of hearty swabbies will make their move.
Are you convinced yet?
I can't decide how I feel about Josh Reddick's wrist injury. On the one hand, the team will miss his defense if he's out for any appreciable length of time (i.e. the rest of the year). On the other, the bat struggles are over-the-top awful at this point. Can Daric Barton be worse?
Of course, that's not the question—it's whether Daric Barton will be worse than Josh Reddick would be the rest of the way and as much as his bat was overrated last year (the power was nice, but the OBP really limits his overall offensive value), it would seem reasonable to project a healthy (there's the rub!) Reddick not to do more of what he's done this year.
The other thing losing Reddick would mean is a lineup adjustment due to the fact that Reddick is presently an everyday player while Brandon Moss has just eight starts against lefty starters. Something like
Melvin has done a bit of mixing and matching of late, it seems, especially in the infield and moving Seth Smith around, but the point is the basic lineup concept from which deviations occur. Against right-handers, that concept is fine—you've got Cespedes and Donaldson and sometimes Suzuki in their usual spots for various reasons (Cespedes is supposed to be better than this, Donaldson is the team's best player (and it's not particularly close), and Suzuki on defense over Vogt appears to be the A's preference), but otherwise you've got Moss and Smith and Barton all facing the pitchers against whom they ought to fare better. (Do I believe in Daric Barton's reverse platoon split yet? I do not. A total of 534 PAs against port-siders over seven seasons will do that to you.)
Against lefties, though, you've got to make a platoon player full-time to make this work: either Moss, Smith, or Barton (seems very unlikely to be Barton unless the A's like his defense so much that they play him at first against lefties and DH Freiman) will have to be in there when obviously that isn't the ideal situation. (If it were the ideal situation, they'd start against lefties presently.)
That said, the situation is again that Josh Reddick has been struggling mightily. How much worse can Moss be against lefties than Reddick has been?
Prediction: A's win.