Oakland Vs Minnesota Preview
AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS—ROUND 1
The Oakland A’s are the underdog team in the playoffs. Their pitching and hitting are the weakest of any team in the AL post-season. Despite numerous setbacks, Ken Macha has managed to guide the Athletics to the post-season once again.
The pitching staff carries the third highest ERA of any AL team in the playoffs-- 4.18 and teams enjoy hitting off them to the tune of a .271 BA. This group of pitchers also has the fewest strikeouts and has given the most base-on-balls of any AL club.
Barry Zito (16-9, 3.89 ERA) who has had an up and down year is the first starter. Esteban Loaiza (11-8, 4.84 ERA) will be the team’s second man for the first series. Joe Blanton (16-12, 4.84 ERA) and Dan Haren (14-13, 4.12 ERA) will also probably be listed in the rotation.
Huston Street (37 SV, 47 SVO, 3.23 ERA) has not been as dependable as he was last year. With inconsistency plaguing him, it puts additional pressure on the starters and the offense.
The A’s have a .259 BA, the next to lowest in the league. Although they don’t possess a lot of firepower, they do offer some key hitters. Frank Thomas (.269 BA, 38 HR, 110 RBI), who has had a comeback year, heads the offense. Catcher Jason Kendall (.296 AV, 1 HR, 50 RBI) is a strong leadoff presence. Third baseman Eric Chavez (.246, 22 HR, 71 RBI) provides power behind Thomas, and Jay Payton (.292 AV, 10 HR, 58 RBI), left fielder, can provide timely hits.
The Oakland team has captured its division or the wild card numerous times over the past decade but have not been built to succeed beyond the AL West. This looks like the case once again. No matter which team they face, they will be outclassed.
This is a team with a good pitching staff. With a 2.67 team ERA, they’re second only to Detroit. They’ve given up the fewest walks (353 BB) but teams are hitting .267 against them, placing them third amongst AL playoff teams.
Johan Santana (19-6, 2.77 ERA), perhaps the best in the AL this year, is the team’s number one starter. He won his last start on September 27 and enters the playoffs strong and well-rested.
After pitching for the first time in a month, Brad Radke (12-9, 4,32 ERA) looked and felt good, winning 2-1 over 5 innings. Boof Bonser (7-6, 4.22 ERA) will probably be one of the starters in the post season. With Francisco Liriano (12-3, 2.16) out for the season, the Twins are without a viable fourth starter.
Joe Nathan (36 SV of 38 SVO, 1.60 ERA) has proven to be an excellent closer and will be key in any playoff series. When faced with getting the win, he’s 6-0.
In hitting, Minnesota possesses the highest average in the American League and the second highest OBP among AL playoff teams. Jason Bartlett (.307 AV), Justin Morneau (.321) and Joe Mauer (346 AV) are all top hitters. Morneau (34 HR), Torii Hunter (30 HR, .278 AV) and Michael Cuddyer (24 HR, .282 AV) are capable long ball threats.
DH Rondell White (.246 AV, 7 HR) is just coming back after being on the DL for an extended amount of time. This position is not as strong as it should be.
Minnesota is tied with Oakland amongst the four playoff teams for least errors—84 and next to Detroit they’ve allowed the fewest stolen bases.
The Twins have a solid team on offense and defense. They possess the best starter in the AL and fine relief but are overall thin in the starting ranks. They don’t hit for as much power as some teams and have scored about 800 runs, far fewer than the Yankees, a team that has crossed the plate over 900 times in 2006.
Despite lacking a true fourth starter, the Twins should dominate the Oakland club. At the plate, Minnesota has much better hitting and slugging and should enjot teeing off against Oakland pitching. When on the field the Twins tend to play mistake-free. To win this series, Oakland will have to have superior pitching that can take them into the late innings. Getting to the Twins bullpen early is key. But it’s doubtful that Oakland has enough hitting to do that. The Twins’ closer, Nathan, beats the A’s closer, Street, hands down.
Maddux Sports Series Prediction.
Look for the Twins to continue their great play and Oakland once again fall in the postseason. Minnesota in 4 Games.
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