Today's A's, September 9th

By Jason Wojciechowski on September 9, 2013 at 8:44 AM

Opponent: Nobody
Starting pitchers: No pitchers will pitch
First pitch: Never

A's in the West: First place, 1 1/2 games ahead of Texas
A's in the Wild Card: Texas is also the top Wild Card; Tampa Bay is second, 4 1/2 games behind Oakland
Baseball Prospectus playoff odds: 61 percent division, 38 percent Wild Card

You go away for a week (not anywhere, just into a deep dive hole at work) and look what happens. The A's have even passed Detroit in the seeding race, which given Boston's lead in the American League essentially amounts to a "who has Game 5 at home in the Detroit-Oakland series" race (without getting too far ahead of ourselves).

I noted in my ESPN Power Ranking comment this week, where the A's are sixth, that Brandon Moss has a .500 slugging and that he's one of just 10 American Leaguers to crack that mark. Note that against lefties, he's slugging .419, so Bob Melvin's strict platoon is helping a lot. If Moss were an everyday player like Josh Donaldson, he'd have had about 30 percent of his plate appearances come against lefties, instead of the 15 percent that's happened in real life.

If you give Moss another 75 at-bats against lefties and assume he continues to slug .419 against them, you'd drag his seasonal slugging down to .488, which would drop him from 10th to 14th in the American League in total slugging (and would make Josh Donaldson the team leader).

Which is to say that I might have overstated the case that Moss's great slugging is a result of the platoon—he's mashing right-handers one way or the other, and his relatively weakness against lefties can only do so much given that the overwhelming majority of pitchers are right-handed.

None of which, however, is to say that I'm in favor of ending the platoon—Nate Freiman is hitting .317/.362/.475 against left-handers in way way way too small a sample to draw any conclusions. He could be a lot worse than that deep inside him. Moss could be a lot better. But the odds, especially given that the A's constructed this platoon with no major-league data on Freiman, i.e. their scouts and coaches and front-office folks came together and looked at Moss and Freiman and decided to do this platoon long before Freiman slugged .475 against lefties, are that the platoon is working and there's no real reason to play Moss against lefties.

Of course, that's all based on the sort of "base" lineup that includes Josh Reddick as an everyday player in right field. If Reddick makes it back and you're telling me to choose, when a lefty starts, between him or Moss in right field, with Nate Freiman at first base regardless, I might forego the defense and take Moss (though my decision may be impacted by which starting pitcher the A's have going—if Brett Anderson comes back to the rotation or if Sonny Gray is on the bump, I'm probably more willing to put a worse defender in the outfield, but if one of the fly-ball pitchers starts, particularly if the lineup against which he starts is filled with lefty swingers, that might push me just enough in the other direction).

Or I guess there's always Michael Choice.

Well, anyway, enjoy the off-day. Maybe you don't enjoy off-days because there's no A's baseball to watch, but I enjoy the respite from the anxiety of the pennant race. I enjoy the anxiety of the pennant race, too, and it doesn't go away while the A's aren't playing (Texas goes at home tonight against the Pirates), but a day where I don't have to clutch my stomach while Grant Balfour comes thisclose to dropping the A's a game in the standings is a day where I can breathe and wash dishes and watch Boardwalk Empire.