Courtesy of the great folks at ESPN Stats & Information, I present three facts about your 2012 Oakland A's.
No. 1: The A's have received 43 of their 87 wins from rookie pitchers. That last team with a winning record to get at least half their wins from rookies was the 1986 Rangers (46 of 87).
We know the A's relied heavily on their rookie starters, but this shows to what extent. By the way, the 2009 A's had 44 wins from rookie pitchers, but won just 75 games overall.
Those '86 Rangers featured Edwin Correa (12 wins), Bobby Witt (11 wins), Jose Guzman (nine wins) and reliever Mitch Williams (eight wins). All four threw extremely hard and were extremely wild, walking 408 in 630.1 innings. Despite all the walks, the Rangers finished a surprising 87-75 after losing 99 games the year before. But that rotation never developed from there. Correa, just 20 years old in 1986, was injured the following season and never pitched again the majors. Guzman tore his rotator cuff in 1989 and missed two seasons. Witt had a long career, but never overcome his control issues. Williams spent three seasons with the Rangers and was eventually part of the haul that brought Rafael Palmeiro over from the Cubs.
Anyway, those Rangers are a reminder that there's no guarantee that a young pitching staff will develop into an annual playoff contender. Those 2009 A's featured Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Rookie of the Year closer Andrew Bailey. That team didn't develop, leading Billy Beane to flip Cahill, Gonzalez and Bailey this past offseason. Maybe this group will hang around a bit longer.
No. 2: Opponents are hitting .183 off Jarrod Parker's changeup.
In fact, there's an argument to made that Parker's changeup is as good as anybody's in the American League -- even as good as Felix Hernandez's. Stats & Info reports that Parker has thrown 578 changeups -- the most of any pitcher in the majors without allowing a home run.
Lowest slugging pct. versus changeup, AL starting pitchers:
Jarrod Parker, A's: .226
Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians: .250
Felix Hernandez, Mariners: .261
Joe Saunders, Orioles: .261
Kevin Millwood, Mariners: .267
Lowest batting average versus changeup, AL starters:
Jimenez, Indians: .145
Jason Vargas, Mariners: .173
Hernandez, Mariners: .179
James Shields, Rays: .180
Parker, A's: .183
Parker starts tonight against Martin Perez. Think Diamondbacks would like him back?
No. 3: A's hitters will set the record for most strikeouts in American League history.
They've struck out 1,322 times, an average of 8.6 K's per game. They are two shy of the 2007 Devil Rays' AL mark. But the A's are also third in the AL in walks and sixth in home runs. They're only 11th in the AL in runs scored on the season, but after a dismal first two months, they're second in the AL in runs scored since the All-Star break (although they've cooled off a bit in September). It may not be pretty at times with all the K's, but it's an approach that's worked.