Today, Athletics Nation constructs “a parallel universe where everything is about the same as this one, except Rich Harden’s body actually holds up, and when you put two socks into the dryer you get two back.”
The blog imagines a scenario where the A’s compete in the AL West and are buyers at the trade deadline instead of sellers.
Sounds crazy, right?
Yeah, I thought so, too. But then U.S.S. Mariner comes along and runs a bunch of computer simulations and determines that the 2008 Oakland Athletics are the favorites to win the AL West.
From U.S.S. Mariner:
The division favorite was not the Angels but the torn-down Athletics, 47% to 42%, and Texas won the division almost as often as the M’s. The A’s-Angels thing is as much a shock as anything. General analyst-on-TV-or-radio seems to be that it’s all about the M’s-Angels, but Oakland fields the best pitching/defense combination in the AL and their offense is decent too.
Of course, preseason computer projections take for granted that a team’s players will be healthy. And the A’s have been anything but in recent years. We’re talking about guys like Rich Harden, Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby. If all three of them stay healthy it will be a miracle.
Still, let’s take a moment and contemplate the A’s. This team, which finished ten games below .500 last season and traded its best pitcher and star CF in the offseason, is a favorite — if only in the world of computer projections.
That’s just a little bit amazing, isn’t it?
I think we can all agree that if the A’s find a way to win the division this season, Billy Beane will need to be bumped to the top of this list. And he’ll probably need some kind of new title. “General manager” just won’t cut it any more. I’m thinking something with a little more flair. Maybe “jedi talent assessor” or “master of player acquisition.”
And if the A’s tank this season and finish in last place … well, that’ll just prove once and for all that you can’t trust a computer.