Athletics Must Up Their Performance Level with the MLB Schedule Set at 60 Games

The Oakland Athletics have mostly been a second-half team during the last 22 seasons since the start of the Billy Beane era; the first 60 games haven't been particularly kind to them. With the 2020 season cut to 70 games, the A's will have to start the season the way they've played down the stretch.
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Now that a 60-game schedule is now the new normal for Major League Baseball in 2020, the Oakland Athletics are going to have to up their game.

Historically, the A’s have not been an overwhelming force in the season’s first 60 games. In the 22 seasons since Billy Beane took over as the Oakland general manager in 1998 – he moved up to executive vice president when David Forst became GM after the 2015 season – the A’s have won more than half of their first 60 games just 10 times.

And yet 14 times the A’s have finished the season .500 or better.

In fact, some of the A’s best teams in the Beane era have played sub-.500 baseball. The 2001 A’s won 102 games, but were just 29-31 60 games into the season.

The 2012 A’s got back to the playoffs in 2012 after a five-year drought by going 94-68. But 60 games into the season, Oakland was 26-34.

The 2005 Oakland squad went 93-69 to earn the A’s an American League West title after back-to-back second-place finishes. But that team was just 29-31 60 games into the season.

It’s worth noting that the worst 60-game performance from an A’s team in the Beane era came in 2005, when the A’s were 24-36. Oakland was able to turn it on and finished with 88 wins and a second-place finish.

As recently as last year, the A’s were just 30-30 after 60 games only to go on a roll and finish with a second straight 97-win season.

What being limited to a 60-game season means for the A’s manager, Bob Melvin, is that he’s going to have to explore ways to get the A’s off to a quicker start than has too often being the case. Melvin’s teams have been exceptional at getting hot down the stretch. The A’s had the American League’s best record mid-June on both of the last two seasons.

But now, the stretch starts on opening day.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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