First of all, I’m honored to be invited to write here alongside some of the giants of analytical writing today. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that it’s humbling, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to lend my contributions.
All season long, I’ve made a point of commenting on how wildly optimistic and unrealistic one of Joe Sheehan’s pre-season projections was. How could anyone (much less Joe Sheehan, whom I find myself agreeing with more often than any other writer) possibly conclude - after a week of research, nonetheless - that the A’s would allow just 695 runs in 2009?! Dallas Braden was the team’s Opening Day Starter, for goodness sake! Even PECOTA, with an optimistic 130 IP expectation for Duchscherer, projected almost 800 runs allowed!
And, after 30 games, we should start to see just how flawed this observation was… they’ve allowed 124 runs already, in just 30 games! That’s [gets out abacus] 4.47 runs per game, a pace for 724 runs allowed. Ha!
What? Extra innings? Hmm… I guess that would make a difference. The A’s pitchers have pitched an average of 9.34 IP/G so far, compared to 8.92 IP/G in the AL last year. That’s, um, a pace for 691 Runs allowed, given the 2008 pace for IP/G.
More adjustments? League Run Rate?! Yeah, the A’s have already played a couple games at New York and at Texas, so it’s probably nearly correct to just adjust for league run rate differences between 2008 and 2009. And, as we all know, run scoring is UP this year. Way up. 4.99 Runs/Game this year, compared to 4.68 last year! Assuming the run projections were for a 2008 environment, either “741″ runs becomes the new “695″, or the A’s (2008 adjusted) runs allowed rate is just 648.
That the A’s have been able to do this without Duchscherer or Devine is simply astonishing. And Mr. Sheehan was spot-on with some of the reasons - namely the high “replacement level” of pitching the A’s have at hand due to talented high-minors pitching, and the “fantastic” bullpen (Bailey being a prime example of both). The team DER isn’t as great as we’ve come to expect from the A’s, but it’s not bad. The relievers won’t continue their .252 composite BABIP, but the fact that they’re already doing BETTER than the seemingly optimistic projection, while weeding out some non-contributors (such as Eveland), is a great sign for the A’s pitching.
The latest Depth Charts still foresee 120 IP from Duchscherer, with a good 3.97 ERA, and yet PECOTA projections have the team allowing another 615 runs this season. Don’t be so sure, though it is a good reminder that it’s still very early. But for now, the projection of 695 total seems to be more accurate.