Monday, June 30, 2008

A's Playoff Odds (June 30)

As of this morning, Baseball Prospectus has the A's at a 50.3% chance of making the postseason in the Playoff Odds. That's down about 6% in the last week while the Angels are down about 2%. How can the top two teams in the division both be down? Either someone else in the division had a good week or it became increasingly unlikely that the AL Wildcard will come from the West. Glancing across the league, it's hard to tell exactly what happened. The big gainers were the Rays (up nearly 13%) and the White Sox (up 6%), which perhaps suggests that the last week's games made the A's and Angels each less likely to win the Wildcard.

Of course, this is all mostly useless. What really matters is the games on the field. And as of this moment, the A's are beating the Angels 2-1 in the top of the sixth. This week's games should tell us a lot about the A's chances. They've got three games at LAnaheim and then four at the White Sox. That's seven straight games against division leaders.

Let's Go A's!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Andrew Koch, Spokesman?

My first "media appearance" back in mid-March came in a Modesto Bee article about finding a job during slow economic times. Today, I made my second appearance - this time in Crain's New York Business: High-tech firms a local bright spot

The process is interesting. In both cases, I've spoken with the reporter for about 15-20 minutes, and they've ended up using just a sentence or two of what I said. I suppose that's how they do their job, but it's not quite how I think. If I'm going to do more interviews in the future (and I would like to), I may have to think more about the reporter's perspective. Being quotable or un-quotable (intentionally or otherwise) can certainly impact how you come across, regardless of the newspaper, the topic or your best intentions.

Oakland A's Postseason Odds (June 23)

Baseball Prospectus maintains three different sets of Postseason Odds. The methodologies are slightly different, but the output always answers the same questionWhat are the chances that a particular team will win it's division or the wildcard?

The three sets of data:

(1) Standard Version (based on teams' current winning percentage and their remaining schedule)
(2) PECOTA Adjusted (like the standard version but adjusted for beginning-of-the-year winning % projection)
(3) ELO Version (based on the ELO methodology)

What do they say about the A's chances?
(1) 56% chance of making the postseason (down 11% in the last seven days)
(2) 52% chance of making the postseason
(3) 37% chance of making the postseason

In each of those cases, the A's best bet is winning the division. (All three systems expect the AL Wildcard to come out of the East: TB/BOS/NYY) So, what do we think about a roughly 50% chance at the postseason? I feel pretty good about it.

If you told any A's fan at the beginning of the season that the A's would have a 50-50 shot at the postseason when June 23rd rolled, they would have taken that in a second. It's been said before over and over again, and hopefully we'll have occasion to continue repeating it much later in the season - The A's are far exceeding our expectations in this so-called rebuilding year.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Congrats to Cousin Paul

My cousin's wedding was covered by the LA Times, which is kind of cool. Even cooler, he and his now husband were finally able to get married in California.

Article: A gay couple's countdown to marriage (The article is kind of confusing because it's written like a live blog. You have to start at the end and read it backwards, I think.)
Pics: Couple prepares for big day (My favorite is #16)

To be honest, I'm not even entirely sure how we're related. I think his mom and my grandmother are first cousins. If I've remembered that correctly, he would be my second cousin once removed, right? However we're related, I'm so happy for him. Congrats Paul!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A's Update

To start off with, I have a confession to make. I haven't seen a single A's game all season. I haven't been to a game, watched one on TV or caught one on This is the first time in a few years that I haven't gotten the MLB Extra Innings package, and without that, it's awful tough to get A's games in New York. I think that lack of exposure has really cut down on my A's blogging.

With that said, I'd like to take a look at what I've been missing by poking around in Win Shares. Through 6/5, the A's had won 33 games (standings available on By definition, the A's then have 99 win shares to distribute amongst themsleves. Here's how it breaks down:

Batting - 45 win shares (46%)
Pitching - 39 (39%)
Defense - 15 (15%)

For the sake of comparison, here's what the Angels look like for that same time period:

Batting - 47 (43%)
Pitching - 44 (40%)
Defense - 20 (18%)

What does that tell us? Well, it means that the Angel's and the A's have been about even offensively, but that the Angels are getting more from their pitching and defense. At first blush, that's a bit of a surprise. I've felt like Billy Beane has built this A's team lately on pitching and defense, while the Angels have suffered from early-season injuries to John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, two of their top pitchers. Let's dig a little deeper, looking at how players who have played compared to a "baseline", given their playing time.

As teams, the A's are 36 win shares above baseline, while the Angels are 51 shares above baseline. That roughly accounts for the 3.5 game differential in the standings. Here's how it looks at an individual level:

Biggest Outliers (Win Shares Above Baseline - Oakland)
-Justin Duchscherer and Jack Cust have 4 WSAB
-Frank Thomas and Rich Harden have 3 WSAB
-Donnie Murphy, Rajai Davis, Travis Buck, Lenny Dinardo and Fernando Hernandez each have (-1) WSAB

Biggest Outliers (Win Shares Above Baseline - Anaheim/LA)
-Joe Saunders has 8 WSAB
-Ervin Santana has 7 WSAB
-Casey Kotchman, Torii Hunter and Chone Figgins each have 5 WSAB
-Juan Rivera, Chris Bootcheck and Dustin Mosely have (-2) and Brandon Wood has (-3) WSAB

The Angels have gotten great, unexpected performances from some young pitchers, while the A's have gotten merely good performances from those expected to do so. And for the A's to make up the (still) 3.5 game margin they face on June 16th, they'll need continued healthy performances from Harden, Thomas and Eric Chavez (who is off to a good start back from the DL). And they need the Angels to not improve, a risky bet -- Vlad Guerero has contributed about as much as you'd expect from a replacement player, and John Lackey has only started six games (compared to 14 for the Angels' other starters). With just those two players, the Angels have a lot of upside. The A's have an uphill battle ahead of them.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Billy Beane on Athletics Nation

Billy Beane Visits Athletics Nation:
-Part I
-Part II
-Part III

I always get a kick out of these. They're definitely worth flipping through.