"Moneyball" (the book) came out in 2003. Moneyball the film was released in 2011. You know the story by now, a celebration of how Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane found underappreciated players and kept Oakland competitive despite a limited budget.
You can argue that neither Moneyball story is fully intellectually honest in the storytelling — it’s curious how the book and especially the movie downplay the presence of three star pitchers (Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson), star shortstop and 2003 MVP Miguel Tejada and stud third baseman Eric Chavez.
It’s not like Oakland had an anonymous lineup. It wasn’t 25 Scott Hatteberg types.
And still, I pine for those Moneyball days (and man, I miss Philip Seymour Hoffman). I wish there was a way to fix the 2022 Athletics, but they sure look unfixable. All we can really do is stream against these guys, every chance we get.
Not even Moneyball can save the 2022 A's
We’ve been talking a lot this year about how putrid the Detroit offense is, and make no mistake, it’s the worst in baseball — by far. But at least the Tigers aren’t anonymous. There are names you recognize. The Oakland lineup, it’s crummy and it’s anonymous.
Only two semi-regulars in this Oakland lineup have an OPS+ over 100, the league average. Part-time catcher Christian Bethancourt has become a fantasy godsend, with a .269/.299/.433 slash and four homers. Sure, that’s a bad OBP, but we’ll take what we can get. Bethancourt has started six games in a row — and none of them at catcher. That’s always a fun cheat code, a backstop-eligible player who isn’t burdened by the physical demands of the position.
Ramon Laureano is the other Oakland regular with an OPS+ above the equator, not that a .242/.326/.358 slash lands anyone in an All-Star game. He’s hit two homers, stolen five bases. Say this for Oakland, they will try to run; they’re fourth in stolen bases.
But in the areas that matter, Oakland lags behind. The Athletics are 29th in runs, 29th in homers, last in average (a lousy .211), last in OBP, 29th in slugging. If not for the Tigers, Oakland would be last in all five of these categories.
If you’re willing to let your hair down, there are some streaming opportunities against the A’s. Rich Hill draws them right about when this piece will publish. Then it’s the Kansas City rotation, no great shakes: Zack Greinke, Daniel Lynch, Brad Keller. Marco Gonzalez, George Kirby and Robbie Ray look good for the Seattle series. Then we spin back to Kansas City.
Do you feel lucky? How badly do you need to chase wins and strikeouts? The Oakland sirens are singing to you.