2003 Oakland Athletics Baseball Graphs Review

Following are graphs and commentary regarding the 2003 season of the Oakland Athletics. Questions or comments can be sent to me at dave@baseballgraphs.com.

AL West Standings The American League West Race

The A's are becoming known for their second-half surges. During the first half of the year, it appeared that Oakland might never have a chance to catch up with Seattle. But the combination of Seattle's slump and Oakland's second-half record propelled them to the top of the division.

The A's may be known as a second-half team, but it should be noted that the A's played very well in the first half, too. They won 46 games in the first half of the year and 50 in the second half. The A's tied the Yankees for best second-half record in the league.

Actually, the best month for Oakland was August, when they won 20 games. In September, they were only 14-11.

For the season, Oakland was two games over its Pythagorean projection (won/loss record based on runs scored and allowed). One stat that helped the second half: they were 13-6 in one-run games.

Comments How to Read this Graph

The Athletics are at the top of the chart. They allowed less runs per game than any other team, by a significant margin. Their pitching and fielding were outstanding all season long.

In fact, if you roll your mouse over the chart, you'll see the A's position at midyear stayed parallel to the X axis. That is, their runs allowed totals stayed at about the same level all year long. It was a moderate improvement in offense that pushed the A's to the top (along with the previously mentioned one-run game record).

This was the season of Moneyball, the book that reported the A's supposed fixation on On Base Percentage. The irony is that the A's OBP was below average this year, though their ISO was about league average. And their second-half offensive improvement was driven more by better SLG than OBP.

Move your mouse over this graph to view the status of each team at the season's midpoint (July 1st).

Pitching and Fielding

Fielding Independent Pitching is based on the following formula: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K)/IP. Defense Efficiency Ratio is (Non-catcher putouts/Batted Balls in Play), adjusted for ballpark. Circle sizes in this graph are proportional to the percent of fieldable balls successfully converted into outs by the fielders.
The Athletics' Pitching and Fielding

Breaking down the runs allowed into its two key components: the A's pitching was third-best in the league, as measured by FIP. But the team DER was better than the two teams that had better FIP numbers (the Yankees and Red Sox). In contrast, the team with the second-least runs allowed, Seattle, had a higher FIP but even better fielding numbers than the A's.

The A's strong DER appears to be a function of some pretty good (some would say lucky) pitching. Oakland's fielding was about average (as indicated by circle size), which means that the team DER is a result of the A's pitchers inducing "at 'em" balls.

Looking at DER by pitcher: Foulke: .784, Zito: .766, Hudson: .754, Mulder: 723, Lilly: 714.

How to Read this Graph

Oakland Athletics Ten Game Averages
April May June July Aug Sept
OBP .337 .310 .343 .310 .321 .338
SLG .425 .404 .437 .381 .439 .412
FIP 1.15 1.01 1.34 0.47 0.80 0.54
DER .765 .756 .713 .737 .736 .697
The DER stats in this table are based on limited data; the trend between months per team is more valid than the absolute number.
The Athletics Day-by-Day

In August, the A's were 20-9 and they had that ten-game winning streak (during which they played Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay). As you can see, the ten-game streak was driven by a surge in offense (which also continued into September). The keys to the second-half offensive upgrade were Chavez, Tejada and, believe it or not, Ramon Hernandez.

The A's pitching and fielding were dominant for much of the year. Their best streak was during the end of July, against some key Western division competition. Here's a lesson in the importance of DER: the A's ERA rose from 3.48 in August to 4.32 in September. As you can see from the chart, this was entirely due to a decline in DER. The September FIP figure was actually lower than August's.

Oakland Athletics' Win Shares

Player          Team    Pos     Hit     Field   Pitch   Sum     WS 	
--------	-----	----	----	----	-----	-----	---	
M Tejada        OAK     SS      18.45   6.89    0.00    25.34   25	
E Chavez        OAK     3B      18.26   6.43    0.00    24.69   25	
T Hudson        OAK     P       0.00    0.00    23.17   23.17   23	
K Foulke        OAK     P       0.00    0.00    21.35   21.35   21	
R Hernandez     OAK     C       10.70   7.97    0.00    18.67   19	
M Ellis         OAK     2B      9.16    8.66    0.00    17.82   18	
B Zito          OAK     P       0.00    0.00    17.66   17.66   18	
E Durazo        OAK     DH      16.54   0.38    0.00    16.91   17	
M Mulder        OAK     P       0.00    0.00    16.91   16.91   17	
E Byrnes        OAK     OF      12.10   3.39    0.00    15.48   16	
S Hatteberg     OAK     1B      12.31   1.69    0.00    14.00   14	
T Long          OAK     OF      7.77    3.20    0.00    10.98   11	
T Lilly         OAK     P       0.00    0.00    9.54    9.54    10	
C Bradford      OAK     P       0.00    0.00    9.05    9.05    9	
R Rincon        OAK     P       0.00    0.00    6.26    6.26    6	
C Singleton     OAK     OF      3.31    2.76    0.00    6.07    6	
B McMillon      OAK     OF      4.41    0.61    0.00    5.02    5	
R Harden        OAK     P       0.00    0.00    4.09    4.09    4	
A Melhuse       OAK     C       3.33    0.74    0.00    4.07    4	
J Halama        OAK     P       0.00    0.00    4.00    4.00    4	
J Guillen       OAK     OF      2.63    0.62    0.00    3.25    3	
M Neu           OAK     P       0.00    0.00    2.79    2.79    3	
F Menechino     OAK     2B      1.05    1.14    0.00    2.19    2	
J Dye           OAK     OF      0.00    1.52    0.00    1.52    2	
A Piatt         OAK     OF      0.80    0.64    0.00    1.44    1	
J Duchscherer   OAK     P       0.00    0.00    1.25    1.25    1	
J Mecir         OAK     P       0.00    0.00    1.03    1.03    1	
M Johnson       OAK     C       0.00    0.62    0.00    0.62    1	
J Fikac         OAK     P       0.00    0.00    0.58    0.58    1	
A Harang        OAK     P       0.00    0.00    0.56    0.56    1	
E German        OAK     2B      0.19    0.17    0.00    0.36    0	
C Harville      OAK     P       0.00    0.00    0.31    0.31    0	
S Sparks        OAK     P       0.00    0.00    0.23    0.23    0	
M Edwards       OAK     OF      0.22    0.00    0.00    0.22    0	
B Crosby        OAK     SS      0.00    0.17    0.00    0.17    0	
D McCarty       OAK     1B      0.05    0.10    0.00    0.15    0	
R Gant          OAK     OF      0.00    0.12    0.00    0.12    0	
J Grabowski     OAK     OF      0.00    0.08    0.00    0.08    0	
G Koonce        OAK     1B      0.00    0.04    0.00    0.04    0	
M Bowie         OAK     P       0.00    0.00    0.00    0.00    0	
M Wood          OAK     P       0.00    0.00    0.00    0.00    0	

The A's Individual Players

Tejada and Chavez were on fire in the second half of the year. Chavez was the best third baseman in the league, and Tejada tied for second best. Ramon Hernandez quietly had a very good year and ranked as the third best catcher in the league. Mark Ellis was rated fourth at second base. (All rankings according to Win Shares)

On the mound, Tim Hudson had a Cy Young type of year; he tied for most pitching Win Shares. Foulke was the highest rated reliever in the league, and Zito and Mulder (despite his injury) were also in the top twelve. By the way, the man for whom Foulke was traded (Billy Koch) had two Win Shares.

The star of the first half was Eric Byrnes, who totally fell apart in the second half of the year. I believe he achieved all of those Win Shares in the first half. The A's one notable acquisition during the year, Jose Guillen, only contributed three Win Shares before being injured. Their one offseason pickup, Durazo, had a decent year with 17 Win Shares. The man for whom he was sort-of traded (Elmer Dessens) had seven.

You can view all American League Win Shares data via the following links:
All Players, Top to Bottom
Players Ranked by Position
Players Fielding WS by Position