The Amazing Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are an outstanding 81-60 and have .5 game lead over the Texas Rangers for the AL West Division. After finishing 94-68 and winning the AL West in 2012, very few people gave them a chance of repeating as AL West Division Champions. They are in a very good position to repeat, but the question must be asked. How in the world do they do it?
This is a team that is ranked 27th in team salary, with a little over $60 million spent. In comparison, the Los Angeles Dodgers are spending $220 million in salaries this season and their top three salaried players make more combined than all of the A’s roster. General Manager Billy Beane once again shows how to get the best bang out of his buck.
You would think that this talent has some top AL leaders in Batting Average, Home Runs, Runs Scored and Runs Batted In. How about they don’t have a single player in the AL top 10 in any of those categories. They don’t have a single player batting over 300. What they do have is a team that is 4th in the AL in runs scored. You would say they have a team that must steal a lot of bases and produce runs. Just one guy on the team has over 10 stolen bases (Coco Crisp, 17), which ranks him 20th in the AL. Talk about a real team effort, in every facet, to score runs.
Where they have really excelled, on an individual and team level, has been pitching and one of the best individual efforts has been by Bartolo Colon. Colon is in the AL top 10 in wins with 14 and third in ERA with a 2.90. Grant Balfour has converted 37 out of 39 save chances this season and that is good for 5th in saves in the AL. Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook have been fantastic in the bullpen, where they are both in the AL top 10 in holds. As a team, they have a 3.62 ERA, which is 2nd in the AL.
The A’s have a top notch bullpen, a strong closer, and a team that finds all different ways to score runs. I still look at Donaldson, Lowrie, Crisp, Cespedes, Moss, Norris, you get it, a team that has a lot of guys that an average MLB fan has no idea who they are, and even your more than average fan can’t name a lot of the guys on this team. Truly just an amazing job by Bob Melvin to manage this team and get 100% out of each one of them. Billy Beane will go down in history as one of the greatest front office individuals, if they can ever win the big one.
Vincent Lombardi Jr. is the CEO of outsidepitchmlb.com and Co-Host and Associate Producer of Outside Pitch MLB Podcast. He can be found on Twitter @vlombardijr