As MLB, Players Figure Out a Schedule, the More Games the Better for the Athletics
So, we hear the Major League Baseball season will be 50 games. Or 114. Or maybe 82.
It’s early days yet. Plenty of time for other numbers to enter the conversation.
The question is, what do these numbers mean for the Oakland A’s?
The original schedule for a shortened season put forth by negotiators for the MLB owners, the idea was to play 82 games. The players countered late Sunday, asking for a 114-game schedule, which would bring the players more money. The owners, according to ESPN, are expected to counter with an offer of 50 games, saving them money.
Halfway between 50 and 114 is 82, so as the negotiations go on, that’s where the schedule, with a hoped-for start sometime in July, may be headed.
From the standpoint of the A’s, the more games that are played, the better. Five times in the last eight years – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019 – the A’s have made the playoffs, and in four of the five, they’ve had to come roaring from behind to get there.
In just one of the five most recent postseason years, 2014, have the A’s been in first place at the 50-, 82- and 114-game mark, although that team would fade badly and finish 10 games behind the Angels.
In just one of the four other recent postseason years, 2013, did the A’s make it to first place by the 114-game mark.
Let’s face it. This team historically is a slow starter. Back when the 2020 season was supposed to be 162-games, the A’s were considered perhaps the equal of the defending champion Houston Astros. Will that be the case in a 50-, 82- or 114-game season?
Well, maybe. History suggests the more games the A’s get in, the better they will do. A’s fans should be rooting for 114 games, even if they won’t be able to attend any of them in this era of social distancing.
Last year’s Oakland 25-25 record after 50 games had something to do with first baseman Matt Olson’s hamate injury that cost him more than seven weeks on the injured list. As soon as he returned, the A’s won five of six and 15 of 19 to get back in the chase. It didn’t help that starter Sean Manaea missed the first five months of the season.
At the start of the 2018 season, it was a young team that had to learn on the fly. Two games over .500 at the 50-game mark, they were 20 over by the time Game 114 rolled around.
Oakland’s history over the last two decades is one that shows the longer the season goes, the better the A’s odds are. Consider that the 2001 A’s, perhaps the most talented team of the Billy Beane era with one former MVP in Jason Giambi, one future MVP in Miguel Tejada and the Big Three rotation of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, started 24-26 but went on to win 102 games. The 2002 “Moneyball” team, which won an Oakland record 103 games, began 24-26 as well. The 2006 team, which was 18-32 after 50 games, went on to win 88 games and get deeper into the postseason than any Oakland team since the 1989 World Series champions.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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