Will the A's win the AL Pennant?

Oakland A's 2014 American League Pennant odds

LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) – The Oakland A’s are the current favorites to win the AL pennant but they’ve never won a pennant under Billy Beane. Are they worth the risk for bettors?

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We are all very familiar with the movie “Moneyball” and the 'black box' approach to building winning baseball programs within a skimpy budget. It is certainly working on all gears this season. They should be lined as favorites, but there are other contenders worth noting.

In my proprietary PR rankings, the A's are the best, followed closely by the Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, and the Seattle Mariners. Three of these teams are in the AL West and will be playing each other in essentially a three-team round robin to determine the division winner and wild card berths. Winning the division is a major goal for all three of these teams, as each wants to avoid playing the one-game play-in situation where anything can and will happen on the baseball field.

The A's are a solid all-around team. The offense is arguably the best in MLB, which is attributed to their immense plate discipline and abilities to work deep counts. They rank second in scoring at 4.92 RPG, third averaging 34.85 AB per game, seventh with 1.02 HR per game, and best averaging 3.73 BB per game. It is the ability to average that many walks per game that puts immense pressure on starting pitchers and relievers and the defenses that makes the A's a very consistent team.

If the walks per game were not impressive enough, they rank best in having the lowest K% at 18% of all AB this season. So, not only do they see a lot of pitches, they also put the ball in play at a very high rate forcing defenses to make plays to record outs and end innings.

Now, on the defensive end, the A's rank near the best in nearly every significant statistical category. They rank second with a 3.10 ERA and 1.157 WHIP, and 7.77 hits per 9 innings worked. They rank a solid ninth in K/BB ratio at 2.84 and 7th executing 0.95 double plays per game. This all shows clearly that the A's will rarely beat themselves with errors in the field. So, it is very hard not to love the A's at 5/2 to win the AL Pennant.

The only concern I have about the A's, but one that I fully trust, is Beane's move to acquire Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The move was not to make Samardzija the staff ace, but he is going to be expected to be very consistent down the stretch. Scott Kazmir has not pitched more than 1508+ innings since 2007 and Sonny Gray is experiencing his first full season. Gray and Kazmir easily combine to be a very strong 1-2 punch in any series, but the A's need Samardzija to step up his game. His performance alone will go a long way to determining by how many games the AL West is won by the A's. Yet, I’m reminded that “Moneyball” is built on a team where every player does their job and no individual expectations or accomplishments are a focal point to any win or loss.

Take the Oakland A's to win the Pennant and the World Series all with an 82 million dollar budget.

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