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Oakland A’s Can Still Win the AL West

After beginning the second half with a three-game sweep against the Kansas City Royals, the Oakland Athletics are ready to make a run at their first American League West title since 2006.

The A’s are currently 46-46 and seven games back of the division-leading Rangers. This may seem like a lot of ground to make up, but Oakland has their schedule and their pitching on their side.

Thirty-five of Oakland’s final 71 games are at home, with 42 of those games against teams .500 or better. This does make the schedule look hard for the Athletics because of the fact that the majority of the second-half games are on the road, but the A’s will benefit from having the second easiest second half schedule in the division.

The only division team with an easier second half schedule is Seattle. This means the A’s will have an advantage over both the Rangers and Angels, the two teams they are chasing in the standings.

The problem with the A’s schedule is the Athletics’ final seven games are on the road. Oakland is six games under .500 on the road so far this season and these seven games could decide the division winner.

The Athletics will count on one of the best pitching staffs in the majors to help carry them the rest of the year. Oakland has a 3.83 team ERA, which is second best in the American League. They lead the AL in shutouts and have allowed the second fewest runs.

Although Ben Sheets has not been worth the $10 million Billy Beane gave him for the 2010 season, his veteran leadership has helped develop the young arms of Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Vin Mazzaro .

The only thing that could hold back the 2010 Oakland Athletics is the disabled list. Recently acquired Conor Jackson is currently on the DL, along with pitchers Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden. The A’s used the disabled list 17 times this year, which matches their season total from a year ago.

If the A’s can stay healthy have the talent to content for the 2010 AL West title, if the injuries keep piling up, they will not win the division for the fourth straight year.

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Making the Case: Trevor Cahill to the American League All-Star Team

The Oakland Athletics have a few players that are deserving of an All-Star invitation, including Kurt Suzuki, Ryan Sweeney, and Andrew Bailey.

Despite how great all of these players are playing right now, Trevor Cahill is the most deserving of any.

The 22-year-old right-hander is from the Southern California area and should be returning there to represent the A’s in Angel Stadium. Cahill is 7-2 on the year with an impressive 2.88 ERA.

Of his 12 starts, 10 have been “quality starts,” and the team has won nine of the games started by Cahill.

Trevor Cahill has won his last six decisions, which is the longest winning streak by an A’s starting pitcher since Dan Haren in 2007.

Cahill is a laid-back guy who has very quietly put up a great season; hopefully the right people are taking enough notice that Cahill will be able to join Bob Geren in Anaheim.

With multiple players having good seasons, it is possible that the Oakland Athletics will have multiple All-Stars for the first time since 2004, when Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder were both selected.

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$5 Million into the Ben Sheets Experiment

The Oakland Athletics have played 79 games, and while they have not quite reached the midway point of their season, Ben Sheets has. The Athletics’ right-hander has made 17 starts and has accumulated a 3-7 record with a 5.05 ERA.


Most A’s fans ignored his early struggles and cited the fact that he did not pitch at all in 2009. Fans expected Sheets to struggle early, but to regain his form as the season progressed.


Unfortunately for A’s fans this is not what happened.


Sheets went eight starts between his second and third wins and posted an ERA of 3.94.


Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics made a big investment in Sheets this off-season and he has not lived up to his contract.


The A’s were hoping to get a number one starter and a veteran leader to help mentor the younger pitchers. Instead, they got neither.


Trevor Cahill has emerged as the ace of the staff, and although he is a veteran, I do not know how much the young starting pitchers will want to listen to a struggling pitcher who is constantly frustrated and trying to control his pitches.


A quick look at Ben Sheets numbers thus far show that he has “earned” $1.67 million for each win, $714,285 for each loss, $83,333 for each run, and $50,454 for each inning pitched.

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Should Stephen Strasburg Be an All-Star? Does MLB Need Him To Be?

Major League Baseball will announce the All-Star rosters on Sunday, and there has beenmuch debate about whether or not Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg, deserves to be a member of the National League team.

Those who want Strasburg in the All-Star game mention that he has been dominant in four of his five starts and point to his 2.27 ERA and 48 strikeouts in just 31.2 innings pitched. But, that last stat is exactly why the Nationals’ starting pitcher does not deserve to be a 2010 National League All-Star.

31.2 innings pitched. He will have one more start before the rosters are announced, so if he pitches a complete game, (even though the Nationals will not let him) the most possible innings he could pitch before the break would be 40.2.

The All-Star game is supposed to reward players that have played a great first half to the season, not a great month.

Players should earn a spot on the team by pitching in or playing in the majority of the first half. If Strasburg is as good as he has shown in his first few starts, he will have plenty more opportunities to make an All-Star team.

While it is unclear whether or not he should be on the team, it is clear Major League Baseball needs him on the team.

With Strasburg on the team and the possibility of him pitching an inning, the viewership for the game would undoubtedly increase. There has been an insane amount of hype and media attention each time he has taken the mound and there is no reason to believe the attention wouldn’t continue if he was at the Midsummer Classic. People are dying to see the young phenom every chance they get and would love nothing more than to see him pitch against the best that baseball has to offer. 

The viewership that would be generated by Strasburg’s presence is necessary because baseball needs to restore an All-Star game that seems to be losing interest each year.

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No-Hitters Galore: Ranking the Four No-Hitters of the MLB Season

While a no-hitter is always impressive, they are starting to become “routine” this year. With the All-Star break just around the corner there have already been four no-hitters (two perfect games) so far this season. If it weren’t for the infamous call that cost Armando Galarraga his perfect game, 2010 would have five no-hitters and would be on its way towards the all-time record of seven in one season, which happened in 1990 and 1991.

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Mike Leake Deserves To Be an All-Star

The eighth overall pick of last year’s MLB draft has put together an unnoticed but impressive first half to his rookie season. He should garner some consideration as a representative to the All-Star team next month.

The 22-year-old right-hander out of Arizona State University is 5-1 and ranks third in the National League in win percentage (.833). Among starting NL pitchers, he is 15th in ERA at 2.92 and has a WHIP of 1.41.

Eleven of his 15 starts have been quality starts (even if it is an overrated stat).

Cincinnati’s Mike Leake became the first college pitcher to go straight to the Major Leagues. Leake was drafted eighth overall in last year’s draft, skipped the minor leagues, and made the Reds starting rotation during spring training.

He is the first rookie pitcher in Reds history to start his career 5-0. He deserves some recognition for his success so far. That recognition may come when the managers select their pitching rotations for the All-Star team.

Leake has not received any of the hype that Stephen Strasburg has for the past few years, but he has pitched just as well.

As if pitching like an ace wasn’t enough, Leake is also hitting .385 this year.

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Is a “Quality Start” the Most Overrated Stat in Baseball?

In 1985 Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter John Lowe created the stat known as the quality start.

A quality start is defined as a start in which the starting pitcher pitches six full innings and allows three earned runs or less.

The advantage of this statistic is that it does not punish a pitcher who suffers from a low run support the way a win-loss record does. If a pitcher allows one run but his team is shutout, his quality start percentage will increase, but his win percentage would decrease with the loss.

The problem with this statistic is that six innings pitched and three earned runs results in a 4.50 ERA. There are 100 pitchers in Major League Baseball right now that have started a game and have an ERA at or below 4.50. Giving up four and a half runs per game is not that impressive considering the majority (63%) of teams score above 4.5 runs per game.

This statistic is also unfavorable to pitchers who pitch deep into the ball game. If a pitcher pitches six innings and gives up three runs, they get a quality start with an ERA of 4.50. However, if they pitch a full nine innings and give up four runs, they would have an ERA of 4.00, but not get the quality start.

Which start would you rather have your pitcher turn in? The start with six innings pitched and three earned runs? Or the complete game with four earned runs?

ERA of 4.50 of 4.00?

Which is truly a “quality start”?

Considering the fact that 77% of teams this year are averaging more than four runs per game, a quality start should be rewarded for a pitcher that holds a team to 3.5 runs or fewer. Why award a pitcher for a start in which he allowed the opposing lineup to do what they have done all year long?

A quality start should be received when the pitcher does something that is not the norm. Such as hold a team below their run average.

I do not seen anything “quality” about giving up a run every other inning, which is what happens when you pitch six and give up three…

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Stephen Strasburg vs. Bryce Harper: Who Will Be the Better Pro?

Stephen Strasburg. Bryce Harper. Both have been in the limelight for the past year. Both were No. 1 overall draft picks by the Washington Nationals. Strasburg made his Major League debut Tuesday night, and Harper was drafted Monday night.


Both stars have very promising futures and both will play together as Washington Nationals. They are both bright young prospects that are expected to make the Nationals a winning team. Both are expected to be successful, but who will have more success?


Strasburg had one of the most anticipated debuts ever Tuesday night and he certainly lived up to the hype. Strasburg pitched seven innings, gave up four hits, and allowed two earned runs while striking out 14 in a win over the Pirates. Strasburg’s major league debut came after he made 11 starts in the minors that were just as impressive as his major league debut. In the minor leagues he had a 7-2 record with an ERA of 1.30.

Bryce Harper is just 17 years old, but has already been referred to as “The Chosen One” on the cover of Sports Illustrated last year. He holds the record for the longest home run hit at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida. Harper also hit a 570-foot home run while in high school.

Harper has been such an impressive prospect for so long that he left high school after his sophomore year, by receiving his GED, so that he could enroll in junior college. This would allow Harper to enter the draft sooner.

At the College of Southern Nevada, the young catcher (who was drafted to be an outfielder) hit .443 with 31 home runs and 98 RBI. He was named the Scenic West Athletic Conference MVP and broke multiple school and conference records. He also led the team in steals with 18.

In the regional championship game Harper hit four home runs and had 10 RBI.

The future looks bright for Harper, Strasburg, and the Nationals. Whether Strasburg or Harper is more successful doesn’t really matter for Nationals fans as they will benefit from both.

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MLB Draft One Year Later: Looking Back at the Top 10 Picks of 2009

With Stephen Strasburg set to make his Major League Baseball debut tomorrow, Mike Leake steadily gaining notoriety, and talks of Bryce Harper heating up again, I will take a look at the top 10 players from last year’s draft.

It is no secret that it takes a few years for players to make it to the majors and to make an impact, so it is no surprise that the majority of these players are still in the minors, but just how well are they doing?

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