Oakland's blowout "problem"

By Jason Wojciechowski on May 19, 2007 at 1:16 PM

Did you know the A's were 11th in baseball in runs scored? That they're seventh in the American League (i.e. solidly average)? That they're seventh in the AL in OPS and sixth in homers? I certainly didn't know that because all the A's bloggers out there talk about is how poor the Oakland offense is.

Here comes the problem, though: the A's seem to have had a disproportionate number of nights like yesterday against the Giants, when they won 15-3. When Chad Gaudin goes six innings and gives up two runs, and the bullpen gives up one run in its three innings, the A's don't need to score fifteen to win. Has this skewed their offensive numbers? After all, despite their generally excellent starting pitching, Oakland's just one game over .500, with a 21-20 record.

The A's have had the following games this year: 9-0 over Seattle; 16-4 over Texas, 12-5 over Tampa Bay; 17-3 over Kansas City; and 15-3 over San Francisco. In just 41 games (21 wins), they've had five wins by seven or more runs. (That's an arbitrary cutoff, admittedly, but when you look at the list of scores in A's games, these are the ones that jump out.) On the other hand, they've lost just one game by that margin, a 7-0 contest against Texas. Is that unusual?

I could do a comparison of how many blowout wins teams have had and see which offensive teams are benefiting the most from this, but it's not clear that would be instructive: after all, good offensive teams do blow teams out - how could we separate the teams that are inflating their run rankings by blowing teams out on flukes from those that are winning blowouts because they have a good offense? I suppose a fairly straightforward variance test would do the trick, but that's more work than I'm willing to put in at the moment.

But in all, let's just say I'm skeptical of the A's 5th place showing (in the AL) in runs per game thus far this year.