Battle of the Bay: Who is the best Bay Area team?

Battle of the Bay: Who is the best Bay Area team?
July 10, 2014, 8:45 am
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The A's lead the Angels in the AL West by 3.5 games; the Giants are tied with the Dodgers for first in the NL West. (AP)

Editor's note: We asked a new question each morning of the Bay Bridge Series, gauged your opinion, then brought in our Insiders for the expert's take

Who is the best Bay Area team?

Joe Stiglich -- A's Insider
The A's

Oakland is the best team in the Bay Area because it’s the most complete team. There isn’t a glaring weakness with this club. The A’s lead the majors in runs scored and they rank second in ERA. They’ve bolstered their starting rotation by adding Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel via last week’s trade with the Cubs. The bullpen is flush with quality arms from both the left and right side, which enables them to match up effectively in the late innings of close games.

But the biggest improvement with the A’s from last season is they’re a much more versatile offensive team that can hurt opponents in different ways. They entered the week ranked sixth in the majors in homers and they already have three players with 55 or more RBI in Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes. But the A’s also have a dangerous table-setter in veteran Coco Crisp. They’ve added a different dimension this season with lightening-quick outfielder Craig Gentry, who has filled in effectively whether starting or coming off the bench to pinch-hit or run.

Their defense is stellar, particularly in the outfield, where Crisp is terrific tracking down balls in the gaps. He’s flanked by two of the best arms in the American League in Cespedes and Josh Reddick -- when healthy. The A’s have better roster flexibility than any team in the majors, with players such as Brandon Moss and Stephen Vogt, who play multiple positions and allow manager Bob Melvin to keep making substitutions late in games.

No team has as diverse a set of weapons, and that’s why the A’s own the majors’ best record.

[BATTLE OF THE BAY: Best position player? | Best pitcher? | Best manager?]

Andrew Baggarly -- Giants Insider
The A's

Even when the Giants were 42-21, had the best record in the major leagues and seemingly could do no wrong, you could make an argument that the A’s deserved a higher ranking, for whatever that’s worth.

The A’s have held the best run differential in the major leagues for most of this season, and it hasn’t been close.

Despite two huge losses in their rotation in the spring with Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin going down, they found able replacements and continued to roll along. It’s that level of organizational depth that separates them from the Giants, who can’t afford to lose frontline players. The A’s even had the depth in the farm system to trade away Addison Russell, one of the majors’ top prospects, and position themselves for a World Series run with coveted pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

Even if they don’t run the playoff gauntlet, they could turn around and flip Samardzija after the season. A’s GM Billy Beane is forever giving himself outs, and that’s smart whether the game is played on felt or grass. Maybe this is the year the A’s make it through to another championship. You’d have to consider them the favorite now. The best team in baseball usually is.

The candidates:

Oakland A's
57-34 -- First place in AL West

-Scored 452 runs, allowed 310 runs
-Attendance: 1,062,053 (10th of 15)
-Offense: Lead majors with 452 runs, 426 RBI, eighth with 93 home runs, third in team on-base percentage at .331, ninth in team slugging at .401
-Pitching: Lead majors with 57 wins, second with 3.10 team ERA, eighth with nine shutouts, fifth with 58 quality starts, third with 288 earned runs allowed, second with .231 batters average against

San Francisco Giants
50-41 -- First place in NL West

-Scored 359 runs, allowed 338 runs
-Attendance: 2,039,120 (2nd of 15)
-Offense: Third in majors with 23 triples
-Pitching: Seventh in majors with 50 wins, eighth with 3.42 team ERA, seventh with 28 saves, 10th with three complete games, ninth with 313 earned runs allowed, seventh with .240 batters average against


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